I want to be cleansed…

Have you ever thought of yourself as being “unclean?”

Most people don’t. Most people see themselves as “good” people. Most people do not understand how God see them.

If your life has not been reconciled back to God then you are “unclean” and “impure” in His sight because of your sinful nature.

A nature where your behaviors, personal interactions with others, the language you use, your thoughts and desires, what you worship and reverence is not of God. Therefore, you do not understand God’s requirements for righteousness.

The Bible tells a person that to achieve God’s righteousness you must have faith in Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

If you believe in Jesus Christ and the finished work He accomplished by dying on the cross at Calvary, and you receive Him in your heart as Lord and Savior of your life, then Christ’s righteousness will be imputed into your life and you will be made right with God and will be able to partake of His divine nature. You will receive the gift of eternal life; you will be forgiven and cleansed of all your sins; and you will be born again as a child of God.

If one does not do this then they remain in a state of “uncleanness” and “impurity.”

How would you feel if someone called you “unclean” or “impure” every time you were caught in a sin?  How would that make you feel? What if the word “disobedient” was replaced with the word “unclean” in our vocabulary as it pertained to violating God’s moral standards?  Would that facilitate a desire in you to refrain from continuing in sin? Would it move you to want to be “cleansed” from sin?

I am thankful for the blood of Jesus Christ that “cleanses” me from the guilt and shame of sin. I am thankful that I have accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior.

How about you?

Follow the Directions

When an inventor creates something he usually has some kind of blueprint that lays out the product and gives direction to how it is to be put together. Giving insight into how it is to work properly.

Every aspect of the invention is designed by the inventor, therefore if something is not in working order, you must go to the inventor to get its replacement. Using a part that does not meet the original specifications will not work.

The same is true when you purchase a product that has to be manually assembled. You are working with parts that have been designed by a manufacturer that have specific instructions of how they are to be put together. There is usually an illustration on the package cover that shows you what the finished product is to look like.

How many times have you ever tried putting something together without following the directions supplied? How many times have you been unsuccessful at doing this? I am sure that most of us can identify with this scenario. It is as though we believe we have the ability to just take a look at the finished product and “instinctively” know how to put the pieces together correctly. Boy, how we deceive ourselves when we think this way. Only the one who has designed the product knows how it is to be put together. After all, it was his/her design, not ours.

Surprisingly, this is how many Christians situate themselves with God. They try to put their lives together without following His directions. They believe they know “instinctively” how He has designed their lives to be, how they are to look and operate, but fail. Many lead defeated, disappointed lives because they have left something out of their self-construction. Many Christians fail to truly understand that God is the one who drew up their personal blueprint.

Jeremiah 1:5a (NIV) says: Before I formed you in the womb I knew you.

Psalm 139:13 (NIV) says: For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

Many Christians also try to “order their steps” without considering the Word of God. They believe they have control and charge over the course of their lives but are in error of the designer’s sovereignty.

Proverbs 20:24 (NIV) says: A man’s steps are directed by they Lord. How then can anyone understand his own way?

For the born again believer in Jesus Christ, this way of thinking, that I can order my own way in life, is analogous to the finished product resembling the picture on the package but not working at all the way it was intended to work. There are pieces missing or put in the wrong place and the believer turns out to be one who is always struggling in life; not growing in their faith; having no peace; not being blessed and not being a blessing to anyone.

God wants you to know how He has “ordered your steps”. He wants you to be knowledgeable about how the pieces of your life are to be arranged to reflect the picture on the package who is Jesus Christ.

God’s instructions are found in His Word. The Bible.

Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth

Well, you might be asking what exactly does the Bible instruct? It instructs us in how to piece our lives together and grow to look like Christ. It instructs us in how to get connected to God through a spiritual rebirth. How to identify our special endowment gifts. How to learn our purpose in the body of Christ. How to grow in our faith. How to grow in our knowledge of Jesus Christ. How to love our neighbor. How to worship. How to become more Christlike in our behaviors and pattern of thinking. These are but a few examples of what the Bible gives instruction on.

The problem with many Christians is their lack of utilization of this manual in the things concerning their lives. Most are inclined to follow the directions of the “world” than to follow the directions of the Bible. What I mean by that is they may read the Bible but not follow the directions for their given circumstance. When that happens, the result is failure to function properly. Something is not in its proper place or something has been left out.

Christians are exhorted to study the Word of God. They are to know how God wants us to fit together and how He has made us. Then He expects us to do those things He has instructed us to do so they become a rule of conduct for our lives.

So, if you are not use to reading your Bible for direction in your life, get comfortable doing so. Remember, only God knows how He put you together, so it is He you should be going to in order to find out how you should be operating. And you do this by understanding the Bible He left for us to refer to and then to follow its directions.

April Reminds Us of Our Spiritual Deficiency in God

If a person is born without physical sight, he/she doesn’t know their condition to be abnormal.  They do not know they are to see things through their eyes.  The appreciation of the world around them is through their faculties of feeling, hearing, and smell.  What they perceive from these inputs of sensations are what they understand to be the normal manner in which someone appreciates the world around them.  Only when someone tells them that they are supposed to be able to see with their eyes to appreciate the world around them, do they become aware of this “physical deficiency” they have and denial and disbelief usually follow the introduction of that truth.

Mankind is like this blind person.  Many believe their life is normal.  They believe that because they are a good person, they are on their way to heaven when they die.  They believe that everything is fine between them and God because this is primarily what they have been told from childhood.

Well, this is not true.  Mankind has a “spiritual deficiency.”  Mankind is under the condemnation of God and has been sentenced to eternal separation and punishment as a result of the sin of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.  Many people hearing this truth for the first time, go into a state of denial and do not believe it; much like the blind person.

Though God is just and must carry out the sentence of punishment He pronounces, He loves what He created and therefore provides a way for mankind to be saved from this condemnation.  The provision is in the person of Jesus Christ who came to earth to take upon himself God’s condemnation and the sentence of eternal punishment and separation.

This is what the Passion Week is all about from April 14th to April 21st.  We should recollect how Jesus suffered mankind’s punishment and died as a substitutionary sacrifice of atonement on a cross, thereby bringing forgiveness and restoration between God and mankind.

God provides through Jesus’ death and resurrection a free gift of eternal salvation for anyone who professes an abiding faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.  Anyone who calls on the name of the Lord is saved or brought out from under God’s condemnation.  They are adopted into His eternal family as a son or daughter all because of what Jesus Christ suffered during the Passion Week.

Just like how the blind person would rejoice if he/she received sight, so everyone who has received Jesus to be their personal Savior and Lord should rejoice because of what Jesus Christ has given to them; restoration and Eternal life with God the Father as a result of dying on the Cross of Calvary.

The Passion Week is our reminder of the punishment that waits for anyone who is not reconciled back to the Father through faith in Jesus Christ when the Day of Judgment comes because their name is not written in the Lamb’s Book of Life as a result of receiving Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

The death of Jesus Christ on Good Friday and the resurrection of Jesus Christ on Easter Sunday are reminders of the gift of mercy and grace for those who come out of denial and believe the truth about mankind’s “spiritual deficiency” in God.

The Challenge of Paradigm

The situation most people of faith find themselves entangled with is the paradigm of godly lifestyle vs. the paradigm of ungodly lifestyle. It is the age-old struggle between good and evil, right and wrong, light and darkness, Almighty God and Satan.

The challenge to the person of faith is how not to conform to ungodly standards of morality by watering down or redefining what Almighty God says are His moral standards they ought to follow in living a godly lifestyle.

Know that the motivation of any person is key in their following any paradigm or model and in the case of a person of faith, the defining drive of their motivation is in their relationship with Almighty God.  This is because they have received Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. Therefore, one must know the motivation of the person of faith is to live a godly lifestyle based on their reverence for God.

When the motivation of the person of faith to live a godly lifestyle begins to focus on the acceptance of their family, friends, acquaintances, co-workers etc., to participate in ungodly moral standards as they may be doing, and the person of faith does so, then there is a conformity to a different paradigm or model.  It is conformity to an ungodly paradigm.  A paradigm not of God.

People of faith must always ask themselves, what is the ungodly world telling them the components of a wholesome lifestyle are?  How have they defined wholesome?  Do the components they speak about line up with God’s components?  How much “alikeness” is there between them?  How have they defined moral values, integrity, virtue, truth, and righteousness?

People of faith should understand that their relationship with Almighty God is to be their primary relationship.  No other relationship is to trump that and therein lies the challenge for so many people of faith against the backdrop of this ungodly world.  How significant and/or important is having your relationship with Almighty God the most important relationship you have in your life?  This should be easy for a believer in Jesus Christ to understand, but for many, it is not.

Remember that participating in an ungodly life on this earth will blot out your sensitivity to God.  It will rob you of your quiet time with God.  It will steal your time put aside to meditate on God and His word.  Participating in an ungodly lifestyle will destroy both your quality of time and your quantity of time with the Lord.

So, take heed and pay attention to all the ungodly paradigms that surround you, and do not let yourself get enticed and dragged into them.  Ask the Lord to graciously keep you aware of those things that will erode the components of love, goodness, truth, and righteousness that undergird the morality of God.

I need rescue, I cannot escape…

Many people cannot spiritually understand nor comprehend what happens to them when they ask Jesus Christ to come into their heart and become Lord and Savior of their life.  They cannot fully understand what changed in their lives.  Many are looking for an outward change that shows that something is different.

Scripture tells us that a spiritual relocation takes place in the lives of all who accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

We are told in Colossians 1:13:

“For He has rescued us from the one who rules in the kingdom of darkness, and He has brought us into the Kingdom of His dear Son.”

Many people do not know this truth.  They believe they come into the Kingdom of God by good works.  They do not know that they have been “rescued” from their former lives they lived in the kingdom of Satan and have been relocated to a new spiritual home in the Kingdom of Jesus Christ.

It is critical that you understand, there are only some life-threatening situations and circumstances that we can “escape” from; the rest require some form of rescue.”  Why?

Because in some situations you do not possess the power to overcome those forces that are life-threatening on your own effort.

It is like a person trapped in a burning room who is unable to overcome the power and effects of the flames, heat, and smoke that are consuming every breath of oxygen. Unable to safely make it to an exit, this person will die of suffocation and burn.

In effect, this person was not able to “escape” from the burning room on their own effort or merit.  They needed some form of external help such as a firefighter or Good Samaritan to come to their assistance.  They needed someone who had the power to overcome the effects of the burning room.

If that had happened, we would say that person was rescued” from the burning room by such and such; we would not say that they “escaped.”

The person who is trapped in the burning room has a final destiny that awaits them if they are not removed – the loss of their life – and they can do nothing on their own to stop it.  Make no mistake about it, they are going to die from suffocation and burning.  Their self-efforts are of no avail because they cannot overcome their physical condition.

This is the situation with mankind and God.  Man cannot escape” the sentence of eternal death that God has pronounced on them as a result of the sin of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.

It is a fact; man is destined to be thrown in the Lake of Fire to be eternally separated from God and eternally tormented.

The devil wants you to think that you can “escape” from this sentence of death and separation.  He makes you think you are not in any danger with God.  He makes you think that all you have to do is be good throughout your life and you will be able to “escape” this sentence.  That goodness alone will give you eternal fellowship with God.

God tells us something different.  He tells us that we cannot “escape” His sentence of eternal damnation and wrath on our own merits or efforts.

He tells us the only way to have eternal fellowship and union with Him is through faith in Jesus Christ.

He tells us when we believe in His Son for what He did for us by taking our punishment and dying on the cross; shedding His blood to provide the forgiveness of our sins; and entrusting our entire lives over to His care – only then will we be “rescued” by Jesus Christ from the sentence of eternal judgment and condemnation.

Escape Is A Deception Of Satan

Don’t let Satan continue to deceive you with his lie that you can “escape” the eternal judgment of God by your good works.  It is only by believing and having faith in Jesus Christ that you can be “rescued” from God’s eternal judgment and condemnation.

I once was blind, now I can see…

The ability to “see” is a remarkable phenomenon we possess as human beings.  This phenomenon is made possible by the reflection of light rays off of an object that is then transmitted onto the surface of the retina of our eyes.

When this happens we say we can “see” the object and are then able to interpret the image we “see”.  Without the light rays or their transmission to our retina, it is impossible to “see” anything.

Our physical eyes give us physical sight, but our spiritual eyes give us spiritual sight.  Both require the reflection of light rays.

In the physical, the light rays come from the sun or moon; in the spiritual, the light rays come from the Word of God.

Since we understand the physical sense of sight, let us gain some understanding of the spiritual sense of sight as it is told to us in the Bible.

The Bible tells us that our lives are lived in either “darkness” or in “light”. 

Things that are untruths or lies are said to be “darkness”.  Things that are truth, are said to be “light”.

If you were in a room that had no light, just pure blackness, and it was filled with furniture, you would probably have difficulty moving around in it without bumping into something or tripping over something because of the darkness of the room.  Your movements would be hindered, tentative, unsure and clumsy.  You would grope around trying to feel your way because you were not able to “see” your way around.  The situation would be completely different if the room was lighted.  In that case, you would be able to “see” things in your path clearly and would move freely and effortlessly throughout the room.

Well as a Christian, we see the world through our eyes of faith in Jesus Christ, who told us in the Gospel of John 14:6 that he was the way, the truth and the life.

If Christ is the truth, then He is light, and it is His light that is reflected in the “retina of our spiritual eyes” which is our faith.

Because of this, we are able to say I “see” the truth of God in this or that.  Those areas in my life where I was groping around in the lies of “darkness”, have now been lighted with the “light” of truth because of my faith in Jesus Christ.  I am now able to move freely and effortlessly around those “things” in my life, that were once in darkness and that caused hindrances in my relationship with Him.

Thank God for rescuing me from the kingdom of darkness and bringing me into the Kingdom of His dear Son, who has given me the ability to “see” the “light” of truth that is in Christ Jesus.

Don’t smother me, give me room to breathe

Christians are commanded to reach out to unbelievers and share the gospel message of Jesus Christ.  This is a truth stated by Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew prior to His ascension into heaven.

Matthew 28:18-20 (NIV)

18Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

 What I find interesting is that Jesus did not tell us how to do this, He just told us to do it.

In light of this, I have seen many Christians evangelize their faith by drowning their hearers in Scripture verses. I have also seen it done by debating with the hearer.  I have seen it done by critically passing judgment on the hearer because of their unbelief.  Very rarely have I seen evangelizing done by demonstrating love to the hearer.

An unbeliever needs to be allowed to disclose their many preconceptions concerning God, life, death, sin, etc.  They need time to explain their condition to you, otherwise, they will withdraw from the discussion and you will have lost a valuable opportunity to effectively witness to them about the love of Christ.

The Bible gives us a great example of a technique we should use when speaking with an unbeliever.

Acts 17:19-23 (NIV)

19Then they took him and brought him to a meeting of the Areopagus, where they said to him, “May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? 20You are bringing some strange ideas to our ears, and we want to know what they mean.” 21(All the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there spent their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas.) 22Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: “Men of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. 23For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.  Now what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you.”

 The Apostle Paul took time to study, observe and examine his audience in Athens.  Only when he was able to pinpoint a starting point for his dialogue with them did he present the gospel.  Because of this approach, he was able to hold their attention and “plant” the necessary seeds of the gospel message.  There is much we can learn from this approach.

When was the last time you took inventory of how you witness to an unbeliever?  Are you smothering them with information that is foreign to them?  Remember, the language of the Bible and many of the words you use are of the kingdom of God, not the kingdom of this world.

Therefore, it is a foreign language most of the time to an unbeliever.

Or are you finding that you pay no attention to the sinner’s worldview; how they think and reason.  Remember, you need to let the Holy Spirit show you where the “soft” spot is in the heart of the sinner you are trying to witness to – that is your entry for the gospel.

Another point of consideration is the outcome you expect when you witness.  Is it that the hearer immediately gives their life to Christ at the conclusion of your encounter or is it that you have successfully planted or watered a seed of faith in their heart?  Remember, it is only our duty to tell them of the good news; it is God who softens their hearts and leads them to Christ.