Cleansed by Faith

Acts 15:9 + Ephesians 5:26

“and He made no distinction between them, cleansing their hearts by faith.”  “that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by washing of water with the word.”

Peter stood up at the Council of Jerusalem and made it clear to all that the most important thing was not the color or creed of a person.  It was not where a person comes from or whether he’s Jew or Gentile. (everyone who is not a Jew)  The true test of being a child of God is having a heart that is being cleansed by faith!  You see, God knows our hearts.  He knows everything that resides in the heart of man, as the human race and as individuals.  So the distinction is not in the outward things that a man does or does not do.  This plan of God cannot be seen on the outside of man.  There is nothing a man can do to show himself to be loved of God.  Man always fails and makes mistakes.  So God cannot be found, or measured by the actions of a person.  The true measure of God on a person’s life is seen within his heart.  Only there does God do His work.  Only there can man have a relationship with his heavenly Father.

So, what is the instrument, or agent, that God uses to cleanse our hearts?  If we decide to wash the filth of this world off of us in a physical world, we use soap and water.  Think about being really dirty.  You just worked out in the yard all day and you have dirt and grime all over you.  What if you just took a bar of soap and rubbed it on your self?  Would it clean you?  Or what if you just threw water on yourself.  Would it clean you?  The answer is, obviously, no.  So if in the physical realm we need agents to cleanse us, soap and water, what about in the spiritual realm?

In the Spiritual realm, or in our heart, we are cleansed by the Holy Spirit and the Word!  The Holy Spirit can’t cleanse our hearts if we don’t know what’s wrong with them.  By the same token, if we know what’s wrong with our heart but we have no power to change them, it won’t work either.  But when they come together, the Holy Spirit breathes upon the Word and it becomes alive.  You might say that the Holy Spirit lifes the Word.  Now the Word of God can cleanse our hearts!

The bottom line is simple.  Reading, studying and praying the Word is what cleanses our hearts.  When we feel dirty spiritually we must cleanse ourselves to feel clean.  As we go through the day we don’t always do what’s right and we start feeling the shame and guilt of what we’ve done.  These feelings start to add up until we feel a heavy burden upon us that we can’t carry.  This is when we start to feel dirty.  So, when you feel this way, take a bath!  Study the word and let God cleanse you so you can feel good again.  That is the importance of staying in the word.  I pray that you will be cleansed today and that His life would flow through you!  Amen!

 

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Obedience is the Key!

“In whole burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou has taken no pleasure, then I said, ‘ behold I have come (in the roll of the book it is written of me) to do Thy will O God!'”

“He takes away the first to establish the second.”

He took away the first, or the Old Testament ordinances, which were all kinds of different sacrifices, to establish the New Testament, which is to do His will.  We tend to think that Jesus’ sacrifice took the place of the first so the second could be established.  But the fact of the matter is that Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross was because of His faithfulness to the Father to do what He told Him to do.  You see, all the sacrifices at the tabernacle and temple were Law.  There was no choice in the matter.  But Jesus had a choice, the same as we do.

Now don’t get me wrong.  We are forgiven of all of our sins because of the blood of Jesus.  Because He hung on a blood stained cross at Calvary we are forgiven and have the opportunity to have a relationship with the Father.  This is all true.  There is nothing we could ever do to be worthy enough to come to the Father on our own.  That is a fact that will not change.

“But in those sacrifices there was a reminder of sin, year by year.” Jesus picked up His cross once for all eternity.  He died so we could have life.  But it was His choice to do it.  He was a man and was given the same choices as every other man, whether to obey God or not.  He chose to obey.  This obedience is the key to successful living.  He was obedient to pick up the cross.  So what do we do?  We also become obedient to pick up our cross daily.  In every situation, with every choice that we make.  That is what takes away the first to establish the second.

David said it this way, “For Thou does not delight in sacrifice, otherwise I would give it; Thou are not pleased with burnt offerings.  The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit.  A broken and contrite heart, Oh God, Thou wilt not despise.”  We make a choice to pick up our cross every day and follow Jesus to Calvary.  We do this by obeying His will.  That’s the key!  One thing at a time!  Every situation in life!  That’s what Jesus did and that’s what will set us free!  So don’t go out and buy a bull to slaughter, just listen and obey!  That’s what Jesus did and that’s His plan for our life. It’s really quite simple, isn’t it!

 

 

Trust

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart”

One thing I’ve noticed in the body of Christ is a lack of trust.  Brothers and sisters are flip flopping all over the place.  If I listen to what everyone tells me, then God becomes a crazy person.  What do I mean by that?  Well, God told you to do this, but then two weeks later, God told you to do this, which is opposite of what He already told you!  Every couple of months God changes His mind.  If you listen to most people’s lives, you must come to the conclusion that God is a schizophrenic.  This job this month, that job next month.  This town one month and that town next month, this ministry this month and that ministry next month!  Whatever happened to really listening to God and trusting that what He told us is what He wants us to do, and His opinion doesn’t change over night?  The problem is very simple, I don’t believe most people are really hearing from God in the first place!  Now, don’t get mad at me and stop reading.  I’ve been at my current ministry for 19 years.  There are many times I’ve wanted to leave, and had every right to, except God didn’t tell me to.  Oh I could have justified it.  People would have understood why I left, but what about God?  I don’t think most people hear from God at all.  So what causes people to do what they do?  Status, position, grass looks greener on the other side?  I recently ran into two people in a store, at the same time.  Both had left our ministry years back because of this or that.  “Oh God told me to do this!”  My wife and I both knew they were running from God.  Neither one of them is currently going to church.  One of them is having numerous heart problems and problems within the family.  The other one is divorced after 20 some years of marriage!  Why don’t we just trust God!  Why don’t we just do what God tells us and then trust Him to do what He needs to do through us?   TRUST is the key word.  Do you trust God with your life?  That, my brothers and sisters, is the only real question!

A Form of Godliness

“For men will hold to a form of Godliness, although they have denied its power.”

There are a lot of people in the church today searching for power.  There are people in the world today that are doing the same thing.  The whole world is about who has the power.  But how does true power come to someone?  That is the question for today?

A good study would be the life of Daniel.  Why was it that God gave Daniel such extraordinary wisdom to interpret dreams?  It was because of what Daniel did first.  Daniel obeyed God.  He walked a Holy life and would not compromise God’s Word. Even though he was in captivity, he was totally submitted to God.  That’s why God used Daniel so greatly.  That’s why God used all the people who He used, and all the people He will ever use mightily.

My point today is very simple but so lost in the church today.  Everyone wants to be somebody or wants to operate in the power of God, but not a lot will do what it takes.  It takes a Holy separated life, nothing more, nothing less!  So if we want the power in our lives and in our churches today, we must preach the uncompromising word of God.  And even more important, we should live the same way!

I’ve preached in some churches that are using everything the world can offer to bring people in.  Every gimmick and new trend is put in the church to grow the church so that we have more power.  Everyone likes a church that is “seeker friendly” and has all the latest things that the world can offer.  “Come to our church, we have the best music in the world.  And you can get a sausage biscuit and coffee to eat while you’re enjoying.  We have the latest lights shows and the kids will love it!”  I’ve had the opportunity to visit a lot of churches to give the Word and I’m constantly amazed at what I see.  The problem is that when I get to minister to the people, I’m amazed at how little of the power of God is in their lives.

So what is the point?  It’s simple.  A God fearing life, fully submitted to God will bring power to the church.  When the power of God comes, there is no need for the latest trends, hurting people will come.  Forget about how big your church is and how many people are coming every Sunday.  The real question is, “How many people are truly getting healed.”  I’m talking about Salvation (spiritual healing), Deliverance (healing to our soul) and physical healing to their bodies.  How many people are getting free from all the bondage in their lives?  We don’t need bigger and more beautiful buildings and the latest high tech. If we used the church’s money the way God said we should, there would be no poor and destitute in our communities, but that’s quite a different topic, isn’t it?

I believe that when God’s power comes back to the church, it’s going to come to those who are living god fearing lives before Him.  And when He comes, all forms of godliness that we have placed before Him will have no value.  The church will come together and not worry about anything but seeing people get saved and healed!  What a day that will be!  So, if you want to get ready for the coming revival, let’s concentrate on godliness and forget everything else.  That’s what will draw Him to us, nothing more and nothing less.  Amen!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We Need to Give Ourselves a Break!

“If you confess your sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Gone!  Just like that!  The moment of eternity we confess our sins He covers them and carries them away!  You see, and we need to understand this. He doesn’t sit on His throne and contemplate whether or not He’s going to forgive us or not.  No sir!  He doesn’t look at our sin as something He didn’t already know about.  You see He’s all-knowing.  He knew every sin you had committed, you do commit and you will commit at Calvary.  He’s already accomplished total forgiveness on the cross.  So when we confess our sin, He’s not just learning about it, He already shed His blood for it.  Oh, it’s true.  We are simply coming to Him and admitting that His ways are right and our ways are wrong.

So why does it feel so bad and continue to linger? It’s not because He doesn’t forgive us that we feel bad.  It’s usually because we have a hard time forgiving ourselves.  We get so full of shame and guilt that we can’t move on.  Am I talking to the right group of people?  It feels like we’re in a pit and we’re ashamed to look at the world.  But God not only took our sin on His body at the cross, He took our shame and guilt, or, if I might say, the effects of our sin on ourselves.  Shame and guilt is what the enemy lies on us to keep us down.  But if we believe that it just takes a second of eternity for God to forgive our sin, then why don’t we give him our shame and guilt also?  Why do we want to hold on to something that Jesus already carried on the cross?  These are all good questions, but much easier to put into action.  So how do we let it go?

The best thing I can tell you is, “Just give yourself a break!”  We always tend to be so serious about everything.  Now I know that this is a serious thing we are talking about but my Bible says that “the joy of the Lord is my strength.”  We have to understand that God wants us to continue to move forward, but when we fall along the path He picks us up, brushes us off and keeps walking with us.  Our falls don’t shock Him one bit.  So I’m not telling you it’s okay to sin.  May it never be!  But we do sin!  If we say we don’t we’re liars and the truth is not in us.  But our sin doesn’t define who we are in Christ.  His presence defines us.  It’s all about Him and nothing to do with us.  I’m victorious through Christ, not on my own!  I don’t know about you, but I’m personally glad that it’s not about me.  How about you!

We Should Never Lose Heart!

“Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day.”

Paul is talking about something he’s well aware of in this passage. He says, “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the surpassing greatness of the power may be of God and not ourselves.”  He’s talking about the afflictions, perplexities, persecutions and all the other things that the world throws at us to strike us down.  Sometimes the world gets you in the corner and just starts to body punch you.  It feels like you are at your end but you can’t escape.  We must not, however, under any circumstances, let the persecutions of life dictate our behaviors.  The good news is that no matter what it is that you’re going through today, although it looks and feels really bad to you, God’s plan is being carried out in your life.

It’s hard to see when we’re in the middle of it but that’s why Paul told us not to lose heart!   God can use, and does use, every situation that comes into our lives in a positive way.  In Romans it says that God can cause all things to work together for good, and that’s good news.  But how does He do it?

In our main scripture for today, the word decaying means to lose one’s strength and vigor, where the word renewed means to regain one’s strength and vigor.  The world continues to break down our outer body and tries to kill us.  That’s the plan, to steal kill and destroy us.  But when these things happen and our strength and vigor starts to drain us and we feel like we can’t make it, God’s grace falls upon us.  His strength rises up within us.  His power takes over and brings us through. So whenever the enemy tries to destroy us, He’s actually causing God’s strength to increase within us.  Hallelujah!!  Every time the world comes against us, God causes growth inside of us.  So the more that the outer vessel is destroyed, the more Jesus grows inside of us, and again I say, “Hallelujah!!”

So no matter what it is that you’re facing today, put your hands up in surrender and praise the Lord for it!  Thank Him that you are victorious and that the Devil is defeated!  Thank Him for His grace and mercy.  Thank Him for His strength rising up in you!  You are more than a conqueror in Christ and you can do all things through Him!  So bring it on Devil!  The more you work to destroy me, the more I’ll rise back up!  That’s the good news today so stand up, don’t give in, and above all else, never lose heart!  Amen!

 

We are Sealed!

“Having believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise.”

I was at a funeral last week and the pastor talked about a passport.  I have been overseas and I understand passports.  You see when you get off the plane, bus, ship, or whatever means you travel to another country, you must present a passport.  But to be able to enter the country, someone must put a stamp on your passport.  In other words, you can have a passport that’s in proper order, but it won’t do you any good unless it’s stamped.

So, we have religion.  We can carry out our religion our whole life.  We can dress like a Christian and talk like a Christian.  We can go to church and call ourselves whatever we might profess to be.(Baptist, Methodist, Pentecostal, Catholic, etc.)  We can do all kind of things in this world.  These actions are, in a sense, our passport.  We call it a lot of different things but in reality we hope it’s our passport into another world.

The Bible says that we are not of this world.  We are foreigners and aliens in this world.  So we need a passport to enter into another place.  Some would believe that this passport is called organized religion.  Now, if you will, shift your gaze forward to the gates of Heaven.  We have all these jokes we tell about meeting St. Peter at the gates of heaven.  That’s not what the Bible actually teaches us, but let’s for a moment just envision this scene for the sake of discussion.  You get there and Peter asks for your passport.  You very proudly announce that you are a member of so and so church.  You have given a lot of money to the church.  You’ve even been baptized.  You had the service committed to memory and could even quote it to St. Peter.  He was actually quite impressed with your memory.  But then he says to you, “Your passport seems to be in order but there just appears to be something wrong.  I can’t quite put my finger on it but, oh yea, I know what it is.  It’s not sealed!  Why is your passport not sealed!  I’m very sorry but I can’t let you in without the seal, no matter how much order there is in your passport.”  Wow!

Now you might say that’s just ridiculous, but what if the Holy Spirit is the only one who can get you through the gates.  What if you can’t make it in without Him.  Well, believe it or not, that’s exactly what the Bible teaches.  You can’t be truly saved except by the Holy Spirit.  You can have all the religion you want, but without a personal relationship with the Father you can’t get in.  And that only comes through the presence of the Holy Spirit.  He is our seal.  He is the down payment to the eternal life that God offers us one day, yes, but also on this earth.  So no matter what you believe, no matter what church or organization you belong to, make sure that you get your passport stamped.  You are not allowed in without it.  Amen!