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Man a Nothing

O Lord, I am a shell full of dust,But animated with an invisible rational soul And made anew by an unseen power of grace; Yet I am no rare object of valuable price, But one who has nothing and is nothing, Although chosen by you from eternity! Given to Christ and born again!

I am deeply convinced of the evil and misery of my sinful state, Of the vanity of creatures, But also of the sufficiency of Christ. When you would try to guide me, I control myself. When you would be sovereign, I rule myself. When you would take care of me, I do it myself. When I should depend on your provisions, I supply myself. When I should submit on your providence, I follow my will. When I should study, live, honor, trust you, I serve myself. I fault and correct your laws to suit myself. Instead of you, I look to man's approbation, his approval. I am by nature an idolater!

Lord, it is my chief design to bring my heart back to you! Convince me that I cannot be my own God! Or make myself happy, Nor be my own Christ to restore my joy; Nor my own Spirit to teach, guide, and rule me.

Help me to see that grace does this by the will of your afflictions, For when my credit is good, you cast me lower, When riches are my idol, you make them grow wings, When pleasure is my all, you do turn it into bitterness. You are the good God who does what it takes to transform my corrupted heart! Take away my roving eye, curious ear, greedy appetite, lustful heart; Show me Jesus that none of these things can heal a wounded conscience, Or support this tottering frame, or uphold a departing spirit. Then O God, I implore you, take me to the cross, And leave me there! Yes...leave me there where your blood flows down and washes me clean..... This I pray. 

Amen

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My prayer for today, adapted and inspired by 'Valley of Vision, a collection of Puritan prayers"

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How to avoid sin. Where light exists darkness cannot.

So, since Christ suffered in the flesh, you also arm yourselves with the same attitude, because the one who has suffered in the flesh has finished with sin, in that he spends the rest of his time on earth concerned about the will of God and not human desires.  (1Pet 4:1-2 NET)

question for thought.   Are you concerned about the will of God? Really?

There are different interpretations as to exactly what the Spirit means for us in this passage. Some think it has to do with the believer having power over sin in Christ which certainly is true and partly what is being said; and others say more likely it is  when we endure suffering for Christ we show our purpose is to not live for self, but for God, which also is a truth this passage conveys.

Yet even beyond these I see an important even more practical message of God being taught here that some miss.

Peter says to arm yourselves with the same way of thinking as Christ who suffered in the flesh...and then tells us these things. He is giving us practical way to avoid sin and self-living. Instructions to a new way to think. (remember context is important to know the proper interpretations of what someone is saying)

He goes on to say that one who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin. Is he saying once we suffer for Christ we become sinless? It seems to say that at first glance. But no.  He is speaking of practical theory here. He is telling us how to be like Christ and be a conquerer of sin in a practical way, a 'mindset' we should take on so we can be more holy in our living. He said take on this attitude. You see? He continues...  "so as to live our remaining life in this flesh not for human fleshly passions but for the will of God." Then in verses following he gives practical examples of what living for self looks like.... Sensuality, drunkenness, wild partying, lawless idolatry and such debauchery.  Peter is saying we must make our daily choices to live for the will of God and not for our natural desires, and in doing so we will not sin. This is taking the offense, not the defense against sin and the old flesh. The secret to an overcoming life like that of Christ, is to put God first in all things. Where light exists darkness cannot. Pray to him every moment in total dependence like Jesus did while on earth. Jesus is our human example in how to manage fleshly temptations to live for self. We must learn to deny self by filling our every moment with God and his will for our lives at the that moment. Yes this is the greatest suffering for Christ that we will ever do. Outward persecutions are easier to bear than those daily, gnawing, cravings of the old flesh from within to live in prideful self ruler-ship and to set submission to God aside. But Peter is telling us that denying self and pursing God in Christ will keep us in pure holy living, thus avoiding sin. Give no room for the flesh. This is wisdom. So while I am choosing to suffer purposely for Christ by denying self, sin is being put to death in my body. Here in is how the old American proverb is held true. "Idle hands are the devil's so workshop."

Purpose today to do more things solely in the Spirit's leading. Avoid idleness and look for ways to serve God by serving others in Jesus' name. Fill your days and life with the Light, and the darkness of sin will have no place to reside.

"How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word. With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments! I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. Blessed are you, O Lord" (Ps 119:9-12a)

In essence God is telling us through Peter's words that seeking God with our whole heart is how we guard our hearts from sin. Listening to him and following him is our pathway to live holy and not sin against him. Will we fail at times? Yes, we are human. But in the grace of Christ with his ever cleansing blood, humbly we can continue on and do even better as though we are pure and holy before God... because in Jesus Christ, we are! Seek him and avoid sins of the flesh. That... is living in the Spirit.

May the Spirit of Emmanuel fill you this holiday season. They you will indeed have a Merry Christmas. God bless you.

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LGBT people who repent can have the forgiveness of God.

AMNESTY! AMNESTY! God's loving offer of amnesty through Jesus Christ the Son is available to all. No matter how "minor" or "horrible" a sinner you are! All sin will banish you from the holiness of God forever and make you face his eternal wrath. God patiently waits to allows people to come to see his love and truth. Homosexuality is clearly one of the most hideous sins listed in the Word of God.  But as always has been and always will be, the Gospel of Jesus Christ begins with REPENTANCE. Jesus Christ preached, "Repent and Believe the Good News" (Mk 1:15) This means we must agree with God what is sin and turn from it. Once we agree and turn to Christ from the sin, Jesus Saves. Only then.I am not here to gay bash, I love all people from all races, but I refuse to condone any sin as acceptable before man or God... but to clarify in the most loving way possible the truth so you too can be FREE and no longer a slave to sin!   All behaviors are controllable, you are not an animal, but made in the image of God. God will provide the way for those who really seek him. You cannot both have God and your sins. The two are opposites. You cannot redefine what is sin and what is not sin, try as you may, that too is sin. All throughout God's teachings sodomy is called sin and one that the Israelites were even told to punish with the death penalty in the old testament Levitical law. New testament teachings are likewise revealing that it is a perversion of God-given sexuality between husband and wife male and female.  All sex outside of this God ordained marriage covenant is sinful and a perversion and likewise is an offense to the holiness of God. Yes all sex outside of marriage is a perversion of God also. It is sin. So is uncontrolled lust of the mind.

The LBGT community of homosexuals must repent from the sins of sodomy just like I had to repent from the sins of being a womanizer with sexual lusts and perversions in order to find peace with God.  I was born with the natural desire to lust, and to commit all sorts of wickedness! But being born with that desire does not make it good or right!  So please do not try to excuse your sin by saying you were born that way. Serial killers say the same thing, claiming it is just the way they are!

This is true of every human being because like the prophet and king David spoke under Holy Spirit inspiration, in Psalm 51:5, “Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.” and as Scripture declares,  "There is no one righteous, not even one" (Rom 3:10) And we all will die and face God on judgment day to give account of our actions and lives. No one person escapes or will have their friends to cheer them on in their old tired excuses. For is is appointed unto man once to die and after that Judgement. (Heb 9:27)

There is no room for pride and smugness on anyone's part here!  If you are human you are likewise a sinner in need of repentance and salvation.  We all are but by the grace of God one moment away from judgment and hell if we have not chosen to submit to God and follow Christ. Christ followers are not sin free, but saved by grace and struggling to overcome their sin natures  because they have chosen to agree with God what is right and good and to follow him... ( no matter what your vice may be).  God wants to free us from the power of our sin nature and he can do that with anything he calls sin, even homosexuality or wanton lust of the mind by "straight" people. Jesus came to set us free and in him we gain exactly that. But you must choose to accept him on God's terms, not your own.

repentance

To clarify, Repentance, or turning from a sin does not mean you do not struggle with it and fight the temptations to do it, nor that you will be perfect in keeping from it always, but it means you in your heart  and actions agree God is right and that you must follow him and not your own fleshly urges. God then gives the power to overcome and leave the life of sin. But power from God comes through his Holy Spirit to those who repent and receive Christ as "Lord God", Master of your life.... not as some good luck life insurance genie who magically waves a wand over your sins and allows you to keep on sinning.

Salvation comes through really accepting Jesus Christ as Lord of your life, believing that his bloody death on the cross was payment for your sins before God's holy righteous requirement and that his resurrection from death to bodily alive to the throne of God was evidence of new life and power available to you. Jesus says we must agree with God, turn from our sins and follow him. If you are willing and say " Yes Lord Jesus" then you will be set free by this truth also.

Jesus said "If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed." (John 8:36)

If you stop fighting God and surrender to Christ you can find real rest and peace. Come to Jesus. Find life.

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Purity only found in Christ

Just think how much more the blood of Christ will purify our consciences from sinful deeds so that we can worship the living God. For by the power of the eternal Spirit, Christ offered himself to God as a perfect sacrifice for our sins.- Heb 9:14

 

water of life

 

Without trusting in Christ for your cleansing and purification, you would be too unworthy to even say a praise of Adoration to God, much less expect a prayer to be heard and acted upon by the Holy Creator God. Seek Jesus Christ as the very Son of God, and his salvation offered by his pure holy blood shed in love for you. Know Christ and you will know God. Jesus said, "I and the Father are One" - John 10:30 God is Father, Son and Spirit.  One God in essence, 3 in person-hood.

 

 

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Dilemmas of loving my neighbors

But if you fulfill the royal law as expressed in this scripture, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself," you are doing well. -James 2:8

This sums up the commands of God for us toward our fellow man. This is easy to do to those who love us, or when it doesn't demand any real sacrifice on our part. But real life doesn't always go that way. Sometimes your life is busy or demanding, or financially stressed with more needs than resources. Then someone you love dearly has a crisis, and you have immediate ability to meet that need, but it will put your wisely planned out resources and budget to get blown up and leave you in need, or unable to stay in a secure place. What do you do? Worse yet, someone you are not emotionally or lovingly close to has a need and you see it and can meet all or part of the immediate need, what do you do? Do we pass them by, because it may put us in debt and force us to work harder and longer to recover than we desire or planned? Do we pass over the need because it may impact our ability to fund our immediate or long term plans or retirement "properly"? Do we walk on by like the Jews of the good Samaritan story not helping the person in need because we don't want to be inconvenienced; or  we want a nicer car and can't afford a new car payment and sending an extra 10, 50, 100 or 300 dollars a month to help fund an orphanage or feed hungry and hurting Pastors,  or feed the poor people who need to see the love of Jesus in action before they can see his offer of Salvation? What do we do?   Needs abound, so do we just pass them by, or do we dig deeper, cut back more on self, and invest more in others and less in personal pursuits? What does loving you neighbor as yourself look like for you? Is it a life of giving mercy to others that takes from your own resource pool of mercy and provision?

We can choose to avoid seeing or acknowledging needs, turn a blind eye like those who passed the beaten and robbed man on the road way to Jerusalem, or we can stop and render what aid we can. We can all do something. It's better to do all you can to save a few, than nothing, and keep on walking. God has blessed you. What will you do?

God has blessed me more than I deserve. I really believe this, so I choose to prove it by giving more and more back to those in need, even when it hurts to do so. Not just talking about it, but doing it. This is why I invest much of my time and money in the poor and for the Gospel message of Christ, and have partnered with Jim Ball to make it easier for others to join us in doing exactly this. Loving our neighbors who are in the greatest of need around the world. Join me at http://www.aboutfacemissions.com or on our Facebook page and help us help more and reach more for Jesus.   https://www.facebook.com/AboutFaceMissions . Even as hard as the road may be at times dealing with the troubles and problems of others as well as your own, the resulting rewards and new life friendships and bonds of love that form from your efforts will last forever. Joy unspeakable will come though Christ to you, and have you saying, "why did I ever even hesitate?".   I know this, I struggle daily with these questions and find stepping out in faith for Jesus always has immense rewards beyond my human reason.

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Vain worship of God?

Greek transliteration "thrēskos"- fear or Worship of God, "religious" If someone thinks he is religious yet does not bridle his tongue, and so deceives his heart, his religion is futile. - James 1:26

Oftentimes we see James 1:27 quoted, since it tells us what pure religion or rather the worship of God looks like. Naming the loving and caring for the needy and helpless, as in the widows and orphans who tend to be the most overlooked among us. But rarely do we pause to listen to what God is telling us in verse 26 that leads up to the truths of verse 27.  Today in western society we have a distaste for the word "religion" or "religious" because we have seen many hypocritical abuses in religious traditions. In reality religion and religious are not bad words, they just seem to come with a lot of baggage and so many wrong ideas come to mind when using them. This word for religious used here by James is the only instance of this Greek word thrēskos in the Bible, which is typically translated as religious in most translations.  But a quick look up of the word in Strong's Greek  concordance (G2357) says it means literally the fear of or worship of God. So a better way to translate this passage that would not carry the mental blockage it does to many people would be like this: If someone thinks he fears and worships God yet does not bridle his tongue, he deceives his heart and his worship is in vain. (And on to vs 27) Pure and undefiled worship before God the Father is this: to care for orphans and widows in their misfortune and to keep oneself unpolluted by the world. (James 1:26-27)

So if you call yourself a Christian and do not control your tongue, (Which could mean; using crass or course speech, vulgar or foul words or joking; saying things intentionally hurtfull or mean without a loving or constructive purpose; saying things to tear people down rather than leading them to life; gossip; saying things out of place; speaking too much and listening too little, etc..)the Bible says here that your worship of God is useless, in vain, pointless.

God has always been one who doesn't just look to your uncommitted emotional and trivial appeals from your heart, but who weighs your heart by how you act on it. Faith is not a momentary feeling, but action on truths trusted as from God. By faith we are saved, but by actions we prove our faith. How do you live out what you say you believe? Is it a selfish faith or a surrendering, dying to self to serve God and others faith?   1Sam 15:22 says this; "Does the Lord take pleasure in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as he does in obedience? Certainly, obedience is better than sacrifice; paying attention is better than the fat of rams." God never changes. He still requires obedience of us. He saves us so that we can obey.

Today many of us fool ourselves into thinking we are following Christ and worshiping him, because we have emotional moments in Church when we sing praise and worship. I tell you pagens do likewise in their idolic worship of their loved music stars. They are more moved in their emotional adorations to their favorite music artists and the entertainment minded worshipers of football, baseball, basketball or soccer are more passionate about their team playing a game than most Christians in worship of their God. What makes a true religious person, a true worshiper of God, as in this context of Biblical truth?

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Someone who doesn't just say they follow Jesus,  but puts feet to their faith and gives sacrificially to others.  That is love, the kind of love the true Spirit of God puts in a child of God. If in introspection you think maybe your worship of God may be a bit vain and meaningless, which I think all of us fall into at some level (we all are works in progress ), then do as God leads us in the Psalms. Seek cleaning from God, and ask him to help show you the right paths to make more worshipful steps in your life, repenting where needed, and giving more to Christ and others. Don't trust your own heart but trust it to God and live for him. Search me O God, and know my heart, test me and know my thoughts. See if there be any grievous way in me and lead me in the way everlasting.  (Ps 139:23-24) Make this your daily heart cry to Christ. Then watch God make your way pure. Worship is what you do with your life, not just a song you sing on Sunday.

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Live blessed, follow Christ.

Do what God’s teaching says; when you only listen and do nothing, you are fooling yourselves. Those who hear God’s teaching and do nothing are like people who look at themselves in a mirror. They see their faces and then go away and quickly forget what they looked like. But the truly happy people are those who carefully study God’s perfect law that makes people free, and they continue to study it. They do not forget what they heard, but they obey what God’s teaching says. Those who do this will be made happy.  -James 1:22-25 NCV The law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus is this law that even Moses passed down, because the old law foreshadowed and illustrated the need to be washed by the blood, to be saved and made right with God. As Christ said it has not been changed, but fulfilled in him. Indeed God's moral law and principles by which they are underpinned are the source of all good law and instruction among men. So if we want to live blessed and content in this life, obey God and follow the prompting of his Spirit.

But be careful to not follow false spirits of your flesh or the deceitful "angels of light" sent by Satan to fool so many. Do you know how to test the spirits? Do you test them? Or do you just follow what you have "peace" with? Did you know some demonic spirits bring "feelings" of comfort and peace as impostors of God? Not every Spirit is from God, and I'd say when you are prone to follow your feeling then most spirits you hear are not from God. Lets not idly wait on peace over decisions we make, looking for fortune cookie signs. God has provided us all the principles we need by which to live and make godly decisions. His Spirit will always lead in accordance with his Word. The Bible is God's only authoritative and inspired means by which you divide the Spirits. So examine the Scriptures to confirm truth and good godly life decisions..not your culture, or your church culture, or even your own pastor. Not that they cannot help steer you in the right direction, they can and should. But if you have Christ in you, God is your teacher. So go to Him, hear through His direct speaking to you in his word and obey. Properly divide the Word or truth, so learn how to properly interpret, and don't take things out of context to make improper meanings. Do this and live well and blessed.

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Little green men and God.

Now this may sound odd or random, but it's how things work in my mind at times. Due to things going on in a persons life, God uses scripture to teach us what may seem like random truths, but truth nonetheless, because it somehow applies to the world around you. In my meditation and study on James 1 today, I see an application of truth I've never really noticed or thought about in this way.

James 1:17-18 says this. "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of first fruits of his creatures." It's the last sentence that strikes me with this truth. You see God is informing us as he has before in many ways that we are the pinnacle of his creation. The most important. The center of the universe as it were,  not as in physically the center, but as in everything in the vast cosmos is all aligned  the way it is for a reason, for one most glorious creation of God; Mankind. We are created to bring God great pleasure and glory unlike any other of his creation. We are as this verse says the first fruits of his creation, not the first thing he created, but the reason he created everything that is. As you read through scripture, and the law of Moses, you see how God used the term first fruits to mean the very best and most choice and highly prized of something. It is the most important and most celebrated. Jewish first fruit celebrations as well as in many other cultures, are times of celebration and joy over long expected choice harvests that bring us pleasure. With God, we who are people redeemed by faith in Christ, are the choice first fruits among humanity the children of promise, offspring of Abraham. But even in greater context we come from among humanity to whom all are offered this sweet call of fellowship with our Creator to be united in loving oneness with him as a beautiful adorned Bride of God. The implications of this truth are great. This means there is no greater more highly created beings in the universe. We are the "it" of all creation. Could God have created life on other planets and created other advanced life forms and human-like civilizations? Sure. But did he? Scripture seems to say no, even right here. Everything created in this cosmos was all designed for a purpose.  To support and provide for the creation and development of God's first fruit. You.   That's how important you are to God. You have eternal worth.

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So are there intelligent aliens out there that humanity will discover some day. Scripture seems to say no. The pursuit of them leads to demonic driven idolatry in a desire not be satisfied with God. Every super nova, every black hole, or quasar and every planet, moon, star or galaxy, is all where it is to maintain for a time the fine tuning of the universe to support life on earth; and most importantly Gods greatest creation, you and me. This should encourage you as you study the vastness and complexities and size of the cosmos, and see God made it all for you.

For more on this topic, I highly suggest reading some of the more advanced discussions between science and faith and how all truth is God's truth at www.reasons.org or visiting this link for more on extraterrestrial life.  http://www.reasons.org/Search?q=extraterestial+life

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Tell the Nations of his Glory!

Tell the nations of his glory; tell all peoples the miracles he does,

because the LORD is great -Ps 96:3,4

It should only make sense that because of the great things God has done for us...for me, that I should go and bring this great love of Christ to everyone who will listen, no matter where in the earth they may be. Some have asked me why go to Africa when there are so many lost people here in America.  I simply tell them that God has moved me to go to places like Peru, Ecuador and Africa, and.... because they will listen and respond unlike most Americans, where hearts are hard.

Where the hearts are ripe and tender we should go to harvest for the Lord.

Matt 9:37-38 Jesus said, "Then he said to his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest." Someone's gotta go, why not me...why not you?  I like pastor John Pipers recent messages on this.  There are 3 types of Christians, the "Senders", the "Go-ers" or the "Disobedient". The mission field begins at home and our city and state and country, but it must not stop there. It must be global according to the command of Christ. I want to be like the prophet Isaiah who said in Isa 6:8 "And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?" Then I said, "Here am I! Send me." Lastly, for anyone who truly loves Christ and wants to see God face to face, knowing that they have done well in serving him shouldn't we be working on making his return expedited by reaching the last unreached people of the World?  When will Jesus Christ return in glory?  He told us. Matthew 24:14, "And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come." Nations here in the Greek means people groups. So let's be about our Fathers work, going or sending, and making this our priority!

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Love is missional.

Enslaved are not set free by  ambivalence, but by loving intervention. True love purposes to rescue those in need. If you are aware of some injustice or hurting person, or someone trapped in some horrible or dangerous situation, and you have the means to help them, even at some risk to yourself, would not human compassion within you move you to intervene on their behalf?Sure it would, you would at least try to help if there is even an ounce of goodness in you. Something more horrifying than a person in distress is someone who sees them and passes them by without rendering aid, either out of selfish ambivalence, hateful pride, or unwillingness to get their hands dirty, or fear, even when they had means to render aid. God hates cowardliness in people. That is one of the most despicable things I see and often hear about in humanity, and yet it happens all the time. It's abuse or murder by neglect. We live by what we really believe, not by what we say. Our character is determined by our actions not our words.  So we must honestly examine our actions. We need to ask ourselves, "Do I  really care about my fellow man, or is life all about me and my comfort?".  Yet even the most vile of humans will do nice things for those who will do nice things in return, or good things when it's convenient.  But true goodness will force you to leave your comfort zone and go confront people who even otherwise think they are in no danger.  If a dam broke upstream and you saw a home full of people who you knew were in the floods path, a decent person would do what they could to warn and help that family. An evil person would do nothing. Do you ever warn people of God's impending justice if they don't turn from sin and to Christ?

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Jesus Christ sent us out to warn people of God's impending judgment and that his wrath is about to be poured out and could happen any moment on anyone. Do you remember some of his first words of his preaching? "Repent and Believe for the kingdom of God is at hand." The tower of Siloam in ancient Jerusalem fell on many people and killed them, and Jesus was asked if those people were being punished for their sins against God because they were greater sinners than them, do you remember his reply? (Luke 13:4-5) He said, "unless you repent, you too shall likewise perish". You see, he was telling us that every man is in danger of hell fire and deserves to die. As Scripture says, "It is appointed unto man once to die,  but after that judgment". (Heb 9:27) We who are saved by Grace are so enamored by God's love we forget at times that the lost do not live under God's favor and Grace, but under his condemnation and wrath. Yes all humanity experiences some of God's providence for a time, but they are still enemies of God, given just opportunity to seek him. Jesus did not come to earth the first time to condemn us, we already were in condemnation,  but he came to save. Jesus came to seek and to save the lost (Luke 19:10). The lost is everyone separated from God's divine Spirit because of imperfections of sin and on path to eternal destruction. That includes everyone born since Adam. For all have sinned and fallen short of Gods glory. (Romans 3:23). Our standard to meet is perfection; God is our standard. We must not just speak of Gods love as though it is a take it or leave it thing with no consequences of rejecting it, because Jesus will return again not as Savior, but Judge and conquering Lord to all who live in rebellion to God. Revelation 19:13-16 gives us a glimpse of his awesome return. "He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords." This King Jesus will come and call his people to his side but for prideful, it will be a dark day. Do you really believe this? If so let your actions prove it.

But are we people who really believe what the Bible reveals about God and our crimes and unholiness before him? Jesus came as a Rescuer, he is the God who Saves. This is the meaning of the Hebrew name Yeshua, Jesus in Greek. His time of human intervention was a great sacrifice on his part. He came as God, humbled in the limited form of a man, he faced ridicule and shame to help us relate to God and identify with us becoming intimate with our sufferings, and most importantly to rescue some of us who would take his saving hand by faith, trusting his offer of salvation as God among man; our Emmanuel. Jesus being perfect God and perfect man, took upon himself willingly God's wrath over our sins and shed his blood becoming cursed for us hanging on a wooden cross. He being God rose from the grave proving his power over life and death, leading the way for humanity to see how imperishable life with God will one day be for all who trust in him. Today Christ Jesus offers life to all who are under Gods curse, by freely applying his blood payment for their sins and rescuing them from death and the enslavement of Satan and certain hell fire. All we must do is repent from sin and turn to him to save us. That is it. For it is by God's grace we are saved through faith, that not of yourself, it is the gift of God, so no one can boast. (Eph 2:8-9) ....But while many of us have made claim to this salvation and claim we are Christian, which means a Christ follower, our actions say otherwise. Many people seem to "buy into" Christ as some life insurance add-on. They do this by trying to say a sinners prayer or go through certain motions to have "salvation"  but don't really turn to Jesus as king of their life, nor forsake and fight sin. They sort of want to follow Jesus, but not really. They lack saving faith that cries out from their heart "Jesus Son of David, Save Me!" You know a Christ follower by their follow through.  Saving faith radically changes you from the inside out as the Holy Spirit births God's life in your once dead spirit. To enter the kingdom of God, Jesus said it clearly, "you must be born again". So if you do love God and you follow Jesus you will have also a love for your neighbors and you will lovingly share truth and warn them of their danger before God apart from Christ as Lord. You will work hard and smart to rescue the perishing. In Luke 10:1-12 Jesus gives us the model of how to reach those perishing apart from God. He sent 72 disciples out into the villages to share the Gospel of peace and for us to intentionally invade their world with God's love, doing acts of kindness, and healing and blessing people showing God's  amnesty offer, looking for the ones whom the Holy Spirit is drawing to Jesus. Then once finding them stay and disciple them and teaching them to obey everything he has commanded. Yet also he prepares us for the certain rejection that also will happen. Take back your blessings and leave them in the hands of God warning them that God came near and they rejected him. So as to leave them with clear knowledge of the severity of their disbelief. Truly Jesus said later in Rev 21, the unbelieving and cowardly are the first mentioned that are destined to be cast into the Lake of Fire where the pain never ends.

So, as you go about your days, is your life consumed with your work, fun and entertainment or one of many other earthly pursuits? Or does your love for Jesus drive you to think and act daily about how to help more lost people find life in Christ? Do you pray for hearts to be softened for Christ, and do you work to tell others about God's holiness, sin, hell, heaven and salvation in Jesus .  You can and should be doing this personally to those you are able, and also helping his people, his Church, to corporately do this kind of mission work around you and all over the world. You were created, saved and left here on earth to be missional in intervening in peoples lives and waking them up to the truth. No matter how happy they may seem in their life or the risk of upsetting them and them not liking you. No, I'll tell you what, what a shameful day it will be for you and me when they walk off the cliff of life into hell and we didn't say anything before it was too late.

This is your mission and mine. Let's do more intentionally today. Don't wait for them to come to you asking how to be saved, that rarely happens. Go to them. Rock their world.  Some will hear and be saved. God has put this responsibility in your and my hands. If you think I'm nuts. Listen to what God says in Ezk 3:18

"If I declare that the wicked will die but you don’t warn them, if you say nothing to warn them from their wicked ways so that they might live, they will die because of their guilt, but I will hold you accountable for their deaths."

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Mosque of Isa al Masih (The Mosque of Jesus Christ )

Read and be blessed! This excerpt story of one of the many told about what Christ is doing in the Muslim world to bring forth his Church. Many powerful Holy Spirit miracles are happening, from healings, to rescuing from the flames, to angelic protections, to visions of Christ, to raising of the dead!  While most of the time God is bringing an outside Christ followers into a town to begin these movements, here is one amazing account as recorded in the book "Miraculous Movements" by Jerry Trousdale, that is so sweet, I just wanted to encourage you all with it. God bless you are you read and ponder how God wants you to change your world for Jesus! http://isaalmasih.net/isa/dreamsofisa.html

http://isaalmasih.net/isa/dreamsofisa.html

THE CHURCH THAT WAS SUDDENLY THERE

At about the time that Sa'id's story (with which we opened this chapter) was taking place, another Muslim community in that same region (of North Africa) discovered that four people among them were telling the stories of the Bible and speaking of Jesus. A leader of the community had become a Christ follower, along with his family, and he had shared the gospel with another man, who in turn took the gospel to his sons, who then went to another family, and soon there were many people sharing their faith in the town.

And that's when the local officials decided to stop this movement. The four men were arrested and forced to stand in an area of the town center for ten days awaiting their public punishment for abandoning Islam. The homes of these men were damaged and some were burned, and the men were forced to stand all day for many days in the sun. When The day of punishment came, the whole town assembled. Some people had urged the local officials to have mercy on the accused, and the leaders feared that there might be more people in the community who were secret Christ followers, so they said, "Today these men will receive their judgment for leaving Islam. But if there are any of you who are also following Isa al Masih (Jesus the Messiah), then you should let that be known and join their punishment. We will discover who you are, either way.

No one moved. A hush had fallen over the crowd, as people shifted uneasily on their feet, some impatient to get on with the spectacle, others fearful and undecided. The seconds ticked away . . . then a hand was raised in the middle of the crowd. A collective gasp was heard as an elderly man pushed his way to the front.

"I also am a follower of Isa al Masih!" he declared boldly.

The officials gnashed their teeth in fury, but before they could speak, a young man on the other side of the crowd raised his hand. Then two women raised their hands, then a young married couple. And almost instantly, hands shot up through- out the crowd. The leaders stood aghast: half the community were secret believers in Jesus Christ!  The officials stared at one another, not knowing what to do or say. One of the bolder officials finally put on a stern expression and challenged the crowd: "Are all of you with these four?" He pointed to the doomed men.

"Yes! " was the unanimous chorus.

The leader looked around in consternation as half the village stepped forward, their hands still raised. "How is this possible?" he cried. He turned to his fellow leaders, hoping for guidance on what to do. "There have been no outsiders here to bring this about," he said.

"Well," answered one of his fellow leaders, "we cannot do anything now . . . can we?"

The perplexed officials separated the people and said to the Christians, "Since you have made your choice, you can no longer attend the mosque.

But no one will harm you. You can have your own mosque, and you are now free to practice your religion in a mosque of Isa al Masih." And that is what the Christ followers call the place where they now openly worship God. (pp146-148 Miraculous Movements)

This is one of the many accounts of what God is doing in drawing many Muslims to the Biblical Jesus.

Come and see, Go and be.

For those who are from Muslim families and cultures, they are told many false things about Christ and following him. They have many misconceptions because they associate "western culture" as Christian and Christianity, of which not!   It is a LONG distance from true Biblical Christianity.  While there are many who were born into mixed pagen/christian belief system and lifestyle, this does by no means most are Christian. Just like there are many who call themselves Muslim, many within their own cultures do not purely follow the teachings of the Quran.  A Christian is one who follows the authentic Christ of the holy Scripture as seen in the Injeel, the Bible, not someone who attends a church or does some traditional religious things to ease their consciences.  For Muslims seeking real truth about Christianity, I ask you to visit this website for simple common questions that most Muslims do not know about true Christianity and how it relates to their own faith of Islam.  http://goldenripe.org/theway/

or visit this site where you can see how Christ is appearing in visions to many Muslims and drawing them to Pure faith in God. http://isaalmasih.net/isa/dreamsofisa.html

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When is a person truly saved? What does saved really mean?

At what point does a person cross over from death to life? Salvation can be defined biblically in many ways, but in it's simplest terms reduces down to one thing, no longer being an object of God's wrath but now an object of his eternal love and filled with his very own life forever.While many people want to be right with God, many are not sure God is 100% for them. As Holy Scripture tells us, we are all born into sin, inheriting our parents sin nature and are all under God's wrath and the curse of sin and death from the start.  So when can you and I know we are no longer subject to God's Holy justice for our sins past, present and future?

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According to Christ Jesus it happens at some point in this life, never after we physically die. Hebrews 9:27 says,"And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment." So there is no choice to be made after death, it is too late. In John 5:24-25 he says, “Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life. Very truly I tell you, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live." The dead? Well certainly he was not talking about the physically dead. In the parable Christ told about the rich man and Lazurus the beggar, he illustrates that the dead have no visibility or connection to the physically alive, just memories, as they await their time of final judgment, or resurrection as in the case of the saved. So who are these  "dead" Jesus is speaking about. In context of Jesus speaking, he is addressing this message to the disciples and crowds listening to him teach. He says when someone referring to those listening hear his words of Truth and by faith, believe he is from God the Father at that point they cross over from death to life. So the dead he is referring to is people alive right then, people alive right now; all who can possibly hear his message salvation in him from your dead in your sins judgment, not the physically dead. Their destiny is sealed. So if I share the glorious Gospel message with a person and ask them to bow their head and pray to Christ by saying a simple prayer or repentance and faith in him, are they saved at that moment?

Well for some yes, and some no. Why you ask? Simple.  We are not saved by knowledge of the truth, nor are we saved by saying a confession of faith or voicing a particular prayer.  No, we are saved at the moment we truly see and Believe in our heart we are worthless apart from Christ and we need need him to save us. The moment our heart cries out to Christ, "Jesus, Son of God, save me!"... And when your heart cries out that vision of trust in him, so too does your outward action and lips. This is why in Romans 10:9 it says, "if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved". Notice the confession with mouth must include the faith, the belief. So when is God seen as 100%for you and you are saved and given his Spirit for eternity? At the moment of true humble  Faith. As the saying goes, you can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make him drink, so too with the Gospel message. It takes the Holy Spirit to give them an thirst for the living water of God that only Christ can give. This is why prayer is so very important. We must pray for supernatural thirst for God to draw people to Jesus the Life.

I like how John Piper describes this moment of saving faith, Even though a new Believer may not be able to eloquently say it in such words, this described well saving faith.

" What the Bible teaches is that God becomes 100% irrevocably for us at the moment of justification, that is, the moment when we see Christ as a beautiful Savior and receive him as our substitute punishment and our substitute perfection. All of God's wrath, all of the condemnation we deserve, was poured out on Jesus. All of God's demands for perfect righteousness were fulfilled by Christ. The moment we see (by grace!) this Treasure and receive him in this way his death counts as our death and his condemnation as our condemnation and his righteousness as our righteousness, and God becomes 100% irrevocably for us forever in that instant."

At the moment of justification we are saved, which happens at the moment we receive him as our atoning sacrifice by faith through the grace of God filling our dead souls with his eye opening Spirit of Life.

Some still doubt if they really have that kind of saving faith or ever did. They just are not sure. Well ask yourself these questions. Do I really love Jesus as he really is; how he is revealed in the Bible? Do I see him as hating my sin so much and loving me so much that he was willing to do the unthinkable for me, spilling his own life-blood for my soul? Does it bring a tear to my eye to think of how my sins are an unholy shameful thing before his glory as Holy God? Does it drive me to my knees to cry to him often to rescue me and wash me and hold me up, as I stumble and fall? Do I really see him as my daily life and reason for living? If yes, then you are saved, you have the Holy Spirit living in you.... and not some phoney emotional hyped up human attempt to emulate the Holy Spirit yet not be willing to die to sin and self daily. There is a deceiving spirit in this world that dresses up as an angel of light and loves to delude people with drummed up sensationalism. It happens in Churches and many pagan faiths, but is demonic.  The presence of the Holy Spirit in you draws you to your knees in humble adoration to Jesus the Holy One. Yes he is our seal of redemption and he always leads us to daily struggle to take up our cross and to die to sin and self as as we seek to obey our Lord in passionate love.

Then you are truly born again, crossed over at that point from death to life. And keep your hope in this,  that which God starts he finishes, and he will complete you in Christ Jesus.  Amen.

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Justification, Sanctification and the Law

God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do…For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.  – Romans 8:3,7-9 ESV This passage is spoken in context of the famous memory verse of many Christians over the centuries Romans 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus   The law was given to illuminate the depravity of our sin nature and impossibility to be pleasing to God in the flesh.

Indeed it is by Grace we are saved and by Grace that we stand. The commands of God never made anyone good, only faith in his provision has ever made anyone good and right before God.

In regards to the law and the New Testament commands, I think where our confusion lies at times is in the difference in keeping the law for salvation (Justification) or following and obeying the commands of Christ and the principles of the law out of pure love and desire to be like God (Sanctification). These are quite opposite, one is outer self-preservation motivation and one is inner spirit motivation.  If you are in Christ you will strive to follow and obey, but if you are not, you will continue in sin avoiding following him. Keeping New Testament "commands" are not our means to purity, but a result of it...evidence of it.  I understand people’s desire to preach holiness and greater commitment to follow Christ and his commands, because so many people who call themselves Christians do not seem to be concerned at living in sin. So audience and context is important.  It may be that these people are the “goats” or the “tares” that Jesus warned us about among the “sheep” or the “wheat” (Matthew 25:31-46, Matthew 13:24-30).  As well we should preach and teach and encourage fellow Christ followers to walk in the light of obedience, for Christ himself said whoever keeps my commands, he it is who loves me (John 14:21). But we must remember this is the result of the Gospel not a way to salvation. Loving God and Jesus as Lord, our master and leader is fruit of the Spirit in us, not the other way around.

For instance murder was and still is wrong.  Under the Law it brings me death and condemnation because evil hateful, careless, or reckless thoughts violate its principle of loving your fellow man, so that sin of that must be dealt with. But since Christ paid the price for my crimes of those thoughts and deeds, through faith in him, I am now justified as clean and pure.  But yet even under grace, God still wants me to love my fellow man and not think or do hateful things towards him, so Christ has emphasized the greater underpinning command to love neighbor as yourself. The holiness of God and his plan for us to be like him has not changed. Once justified and accepted into the family of God, (not acceptance of our sins, but our souls) we have Holy Spirit inner motivation to be more like our Holy Father God. This is what sanctification is all about, in the setting of us apart for God as a holy people. It is a process in this life. This is our new desire. Before salvation, we just “tried” to not get caught and punished. We really were in hiding from God and tried to avoid his ominous Holiness. Now in Christ we are drawn to it.  So we still have rules of living and for holiness in practical life, but these are not for our justification, but for our sanctification.

John Murry said it well… “Indeed, the more sanctified the person is, the more conformed he is to the image of his Savior, the more he must recoil against every lack of conformity to the holiness of God. The deeper his apprehension of the majesty of God, the greater the intensity of his love to God, the more persistent his yearning for the attainment of the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus, the more conscious will he be of the gravity of the sin that remains and the more poignant will be his detestation of it.”

The "Law" is fulfilled in Christ so its demands for making us holy are no longer needed for our purification and legal righteousness before God.  As the Bible says it’s a school master to show us the need for the Savior. When we as born-again children of God fail and sin, which we all do more often than we realize, we are never condemned by God or by the law of sin and death, but are now free from that curse. Yet we as God's beloved will face difficult chastisement and correction if we don't repent from known sin that the Holy Spirit reveals to us, which many times come to us from other godly Believers in accordance with his Word.

These commands of the New Testament are unlike the Law fulfilled by Christ. These were not given by Christ for making us righteous; we have that imputed into us without anything we have done to earn it. But the commands of Christ are our "marching orders" as in military terms for war, on to how to live for Christ as we were redeemed and created to do. We are at war with the lies of Satan and his darkness.  We don't preach the commands of Christ to the unsaved, but to the saved to help them follow their Master.  We don’t do it in a condemning way, but soberly and with all seriousness because our God is our Father and he does demand of us to walk in his light and will bring correction to us if we do not, but never is the true Christian under condemnation (Rom 8:1) . Just like when one of my children does wrong, I am displeased, but never will I forsake them or abandon them, but I will bring correction and do what must to help draw them towards goodness in their heart. They never need worry that I will cast them out from  my love or family, as neither does a child of God never need to worry about being cast out into the utter darkness from which they came. No we are forever his.  After all his Spirit birthed in us new life and God will not kill that new life, any more than I will kill my baby.  The thought is absurd. But I will demand that my children live upright and do everything to ensure they do.

The Gospel is about salvation and bringing one across from death and condemnation into life, the commands of Christ are unlike the Law of old, they are simply instructions on how to follow him now that we have ability with His Spirit living in us. For those who refuse to obey Christ and live in sin, after loving exhortation to turn from sin(not condemning),  we are told to treat them as outsiders.  But only God knows really if they are a one of his sheep or a goat. They too should know, if they really have the Spirit in them. Yet wallowing in sin will blind them to even God and their security of salvation. This is why we see so much tension in Scripture, even the New Testament warning that our God is a consuming fire.  Sometimes even a wayward backslidden Christian, like I once was,  needs a little fear of the Lord restored back into their heart. Truly the fear of the Lord is the beginning of Wisdom, but perfect love, that of walking in his light, casts out all fear as we cry out Abba, Daddy, Father and climb into his holy loving arms to feel the warm hugs of his love! For years as a child of God I walked in sin, I was a prodigal, never climbing in his arms of love, feeling so distant and ashamed of my life before him, but always knowing I had to do something and repent before his strong arm of correction destroyed my life totally. God will even take the life of a wayward child if that is necessary to keep us from polluting his people, but never ever will he forsake us. Never! For he has spoken, “Never will I leave you, nor forsake you.” (Heb 13:5, Duet 31:6)  And by the grace of God, I am here today restored, because he finally got through to me by reminding me that he is a consuming fire and will bring serious correction, so never again will I return to that vileness of living unrepentant in sin.  He has given me a second chance at living for Jesus, and I plan on using every day to proclaim the amazing grace and love of God in Christ!  Truly this is what keeps me wanting to follow every single command of God and making progress towards that.

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About-Face Missions

color globe lg Jim Ball and I started About-Face missions as a way to help us better organize our passions to follow Christ in our lives. He and I met while both recently having a fire put in our bones by God to change our lives and start doing more to see the Gospel proclaimed and people saved all over the world. Being small budgeted middle class Americans, with very limited means, we asked God to use us and send us where ever he wanted us to go. He showed us through some short term mission trips that we can affect much in poor undeveloped countries even with very little financial resources compared to what we Americans had come to expect.  Even a single person like me or Jim can do much for the kingdom of God around the world, if only we are willing to sacrifice some of our "American" lifestyle and go and give. We saw so many needs in Africa, India, Pakistan, Philippines and all around the 10/40 window being unmet, that we could not simply do nothing any longer. God clearly called us  to go and be his ambassadors of Christ and to help encourage and inspire others to partner with us and take average every-day people who love Christ, and organize them into a connected and involved support system to those  indigenous followers of Christ, whom God is using to do his ministry work of helping others find Christ and meeting many of their human needs along the way.  Our goal is to be obedient to Christ in making disciples of all people groups, teaching them to obey all he has commanded as we know this is our job as the Church, God's collective saved in Christ people.  God choose to task us with reaching all people groups and as Christ said, then the end will come. The Church age will end and Christ will return in his full glory as Judge and Ruler of righteousness!  Our desire to see this happen is burning strong in us as we don't want to be people who just say we believe, but live as we really do believe. So this is why both Jim and I press on hard to focus on what more we can do to reach the unreached peoples as much as possible, while not forsaking the obvious places where the Holy Spirit is greatly working and calling us to go even outside unreached groups. All people need Jesus so our mission is to reach all to become fully devoted followers of Christ. For now, God has provided me a great career that provides me plenty of income and up to 6 weeks of vacation, so it works well for me to fulfill my job as Missionary for Christ and Co-leader of About-Face Missions.  While I would love to go work with our partner ministers more than 3 trips a year, for now this is what God has me doing.  Yet for Jim, it seemed clear to both Jim and I that his job was really limiting his ability to server God effectively as Missionary and Co-leader of AFM and so we both agreed God was calling him to step out from his corporate career and move full time into missionary support and work.  As of this month of Septermber 2013,  Jim Ball has done just that. By the provision and grace of God we have acquired enough support for him to make the move. Yet his monthly pledge base is still needs a significant more percentage, God has provided enough of a cushion of one time donations to fund him for a while.  Yet moving into the less familiar ways of relying on God to provide more directly ones income is always a step of greater faith.  So pray with me for great blessings on our President of AFM Jim Ball as God works among our ministry and our strategic partnerships with our supported ministries overseas and our supporting foundations and ministries here to help us!  Pray for  the last of Jim's support base to commit to being his and About-Face Missions partner. We all are the universal family of Christ working all together for the common goal of living for Jesus and bringing as many to faith especially giving those who never really had opportunity to have it.  God loves all peoples, and so do we.   When I see that we have Churches, supporting ministries like MLE Ministries, and Showers of Blessings Foundation and so many individuals coming alongside us to help us carry out the missions of Christ it brings such great joy to my heart!  In turn we are able to share these blessing to our supported pastors and evangelists who are leading thousands upon thousands to faith each and every year and  feed the hungry, help the sick and care for the hopeless and hurting.  God is good indeed.

To learn more about About-Face missions visit our website  http://www.aboutfacemissions.com/ or help support our work with your loving offerings to God.  Our donation page and sign up form is here also.  http://www.aboutfacemissions.com/Donate

Always your prayers and interaction with us and our pastors is welcome live or via messaging on Facebook, among our pages and groups.  Start by visiting our Facebook public page and there you will see links to our private AFM group for those who are serious about being a prayer or financial partner and want to see more of what God is doing.  Here is that link. https://www.facebook.com/AboutFaceMissions Lastly, if you want to do more towards helping with the great commission to reach the unreached and to support Missionary Jim Ball in the process, even if all you can sacrifice is about $10.40 a month, we highly encourage you to commit to do just that.   Be a part at least at this level and help us really get the message out to those who never had real opportunity to receive the life saving message of the Gospel.  Our partner ministry has set up a $10.40 monthly online donation auto charge option for you to join us called the 10.40 priority.  We call it this because the 10/40 window of the world is where most these unreached people groups exist.  Visit the 10/40 site here.  http://www.mleministries.org/1040Priority

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God be glorified in all we do as we make much of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior!  Amen

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Love money?

Your conduct must be free from the love of money and you must be content with what you have, for he has said, "I will never leave you and I will never abandon you.So we can say with confidence, "The Lord is my helper, and I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?" -Heb 13:5-6

The original sin of mankind of pride and to want to be our own independent God is a perversion of the Devil, and today is still his primary way to lure us away from God. The love of money is our desire to be self sufficient, not in need of dependence on God and trusting him for our daily needs. Our flesh nature wants to not be controlled or told what to do,even if for our own best interest. We would rather suffer immeasurable in our stubborn pride than accept God's loving provision for us and learn to trust in him as our provider and our complete sufficiency much of the time. The love and lust for money is based in our not wanting to really live by faith. Even for us who mean well and are striving to live for God, money dependency fights against our God dependency. This is why Jesus said humanly speaking we cannot be both rich and enter into God's kingdom. But praise be to God he can save even a rich man. If you are poor and have little, Bless the Lord for your lowly estate and trust in him for your needs, for if you do, you will see his glory! Don't seek riches. Seek Jesus. If you happen to find yourself "relatively" rich as most Americans are compared to 95%of the world, then work hard to use it all for God's glory in serving Christ. Work to share it away and you to will see God's glory! What you put your dependence in, is your god.

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