Understanding the value of the gift

Ephesians 2:8-9
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.

John 3:16-17
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.

Do we really understand the amazing gift that we have in Jesus? We can get so familiar with the fact that Jesus took our sins away that we forget how truly awesome it really is!

How we value a gift will determine how we treat it. If I gave you a gift like a can of Coke, you would probably appreciate it but you wouldn’t cry if it got stolen or spilt. If I gave you a diamond worth ten year’s salary, you would treat it very differently than you treated that can of Coke. You would keep it close to you and guard it carefully. You would make sure that you knew where it was at all times!

Look at the story of Jesus and the woman who washed His feet in Luke 7:36-50. Jesus is invited to eat with a Pharisee (a religious person) at his home. While Jesus is there, a woman, a prostitute, comes in and pours perfume over His feet and cries, washing His feet with her tears and wiping them with her hair. The Pharisee is offended and complains. Jesus replies that when He arrived, He was not given water to wash His feet (a common curtesy at the time), yet this woman came and washed Jesus’ feet with her tears. The Pharisee did not value who Jesus was, the one sent by God to take away the sins of the world. The sinful woman knew that here was the one who could take away her sins. She responded this way, because she valued the gift! The Pharisee was a Bible scholar and he should have recognised Jesus from the scriptures, but he was blind.

Galatians 3:13-14
Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”), that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.

When Jesus died on the cross in our place, taking our sins upon Himself, he released all the blessings of God upon us and took all the curses earned by disobedience to the Law of Moses on himself. Jesus gave us access to all the blessings without getting any of the curses!

To truly appreciate what you have and what you have been saved from, go and read the blessings and curses in Deuteronomy 28.

Blessings – Deuteronomy 28:1-14
Curses – Deuteronomy 28:15-68

When we see the gift God has given us through Jesus, we can’t help but throw our hands in the air and praise Him!

With Jesus you are powerful!

As a passenger in a car, you have no control over where the driver of the vehicle takes you. You can request to go right but if they choose to turn left, then left it is.

Before we accepted Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we were like passengers in the “car” of our lives. Sin was in the driving seat and we were its slaves. Sin took us wherever it wanted us to go.

After receiving Jesus, we were set free and empowered by Him to sit in the drivers seat. No longer were we taken along for the ride as powerless victims but we were given everything we needed to turn our lives around. We now have access to the keys, steering wheel, gearshift and foot pedals. In Jesus we have everything we need to be victorious.

The problem is too many Christians are sitting in the driver’s seat but are still thinking like passengers. Like passengers,
they are waiting for something to happen, usually for God to do something to change their lives.

We need to stop thinking like “passengers” (powerless victims) and start thinking like “drivers (Overcomers). We have the full power of God residing in us through Jesus. We need to change the way we are thinking and start exercising the authority the Jesus has given us to change our situations and circumstances.

We are not leaves blown around by the wind, we are children of the most high God! Let’s engage with the power of Jesus within us and live victorious lives.

Enforcing the victory
Be effective by knowing what you have
Our minds are the battlefield
Your tongue steers your life

 

A correct starting point is critical

There are two important points for any successful journey, the start point and the end point. Using this analogy of a journey, we could call the good things of God: health, prosperity, peace and joy, etc the end point. They are the things we are pursuing, where we want to get to. The Bible is full of directions on how to reach these goals, the problem is that most people neglect to check their starting point. The best directions in the world will get you lost if you are starting in the wrong place! Left, right, left.. oops, I’m lost.

The correct starting point and the only way the Bible directions work is to understand the following: God is 100% good and He is never the initiator of evil. God loves me unconditionally and wants only success for me. Jesus takes away all my sin and makes me righteous before God (no exceptions). The devil is the evil one who steals, kills and destroys. God has given me the power through Jesus to live an overcoming life.I have God’s authority and power to heal the sick and drive the devil away in every area of my life. God is not the one holding out on us, His nature is to give, it’s us who need to learn how to receive through faith.

Exploring God’s nature
Enforcing the victory 
Being well in your soul

Six reasons to tell people about Jesus

The Good News (Gospel) of Jesus Christ is that He was born of a virgin, He was tempted like we were but was without sin. He died on a cross, taking our sin and our punishment for us. He was buried and God raised Him from the dead on the 3rd day. All those that believe in Him will be saved and will have eternal life.

John 3:16-17
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.

Romans 8:8-13
But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach): that 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. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

So why is it so important to spread this news? Why must we take this seriously? Let’s look at six reasons from Scripture.

1. It’s important to God

People coming to know the truth of Jesus and being saved is super important to God, who loves all mankind.

2 Peter 3:9
The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.

1 Timothy 2:3-4
For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

2. It’s important to heaven

Heaven rejoices when even one sinner out of many, repents and turns to Jesus.

Luke 15:7
I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance. 

And in case you didn’t catch that the first time…

Luke 15:10
Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

3. It’s important to the church

People getting saved is supposed to be one of the main ways for church growth.

Acts 2:46-47
So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.

4. It’s important to the unsaved

Evangelism is important to the unsaved, because if no one tells them about Jesus, how will they know? How many people reading this article believed in Jesus without someone telling you about Him first?

Romans 10:14-15
How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, Who bring glad tidings of good things!”

5. It’s important to the community

People turning to Jesus, transforms communities for the better.

Proverbs 11:10-11
When it goes well with the righteous, the city rejoices; And when the wicked perish, there is jubilation. By the blessing of the upright the city is exalted, But it is overthrown by the mouth of the wicked.

6. It’s important to you

Two main things will give your life meaning and purpose.

• Fellowshipping with and ministering to God
• Fellowshipping with and ministering to your fellow man

These are not mutually exclusive, you need both as they feed back into one another.

The primary act of ministering to your fellow man is telling them about salvation though Jesus Christ – evangelism. In doing so we are partnering and co-labouring with Jesus’ ministry.

John 17:16-18
They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world.

Luke 19:9-10
And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham; for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.

Telling people about Jesus, making disciples is for every believer, every Christian. It is not a job for a select few “super Christians”. If you have Jesus inside of you (by receiving Him as your Lord and Saviour and being born-again), then you have the nature and desires of Christ in your spirit. Jesus whats to see people saved and entering into the kingdom of God.

Trust God to guide you

Proverbs 3:5-6
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.

So often, we get caught up in trying to solve our problems ourselves in our own strength. This is not the way God designed things to work. We were never intended to carry the burdens of our cares and worries on our own shoulders, that was supposed to be God’s job.

Let’s learn to not only trust God to carry our burdens but to guide us into the right paths. We can avoid the pitfalls along the way if we listen to the God who knows what’s coming!

John 16;13
However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.

John 10:27
My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.

As Jesus’ sheep, His people, we have the ability to hear His voice. Let’s expect to hear from God and to see great things happen!

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Hope, an anchor for the soul

Hebrews 6:17-19
Thus God, determining to show more abundantly to the heirs of promise the immutability of His counsel, confirmed it by an oath, that by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us. This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil

An anchor keeps a ship from going adrift, especially in stormy seas. Our hope (joyful, expectation) in the truth of God’s Word and the fact that He can’t lie, will keep us from drifting away and being wrecked by life’s storms.

If our hopes are in material things or in life going well, where will we be if things take a turn for the worst? Our hope should be in Jesus, who gave His life for us so that we could have the assurance of eternal life. If our hope is in Jesus, the giver of life, then no matter what is taken away from us by the devil or this broken world, we know we can overcome, because He is the restorer of our souls and the redeemer of all that is lost.

Psalm 121
I will lift up my eyes to the hills—From whence comes my help? My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth. He will not allow your foot to be moved; He who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, He who keeps Israel Shall neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord is your keeper; The Lord is your shade at your right hand. The sun shall not strike you by day, Nor the moon by night. The Lord shall preserve you from all evil; He shall preserve your soul. The Lord shall preserve your going out and your coming in From this time forth, and even forevermore.

Look to God and don’t let the enemy steal your hope. Evil things come against us for one reason and that is to steal our hope and faith in God’s Word and promises. Don’t let the devil’s plan work against you, be steadfast in believing God and trusting in Him.

Remember David, who was unjustly hated and hunted by King Saul. David at his lowest points, when all seemed lost, was able to look to God and anchor his soul in Him.

Psalm 43:5
Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; For I shall yet praise Him, The help of my countenance and my God.

Psalm 62:5-8
My soul, wait silently for God alone, For my expectation is from Him. He only is my rock and my salvation; He is my defense; I shall not be moved. In God is my salvation and my glory; The rock of my strength, And my refuge, is in God. Trust in Him at all times, you people; Pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us.

Remember God is on your side! He will never leave you nor forsake you. Anchor your hope and trust in Him and He will always empower you to be an overcomer.

Romans 8:31-32
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?

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Come to Jesus for rest

Matthew 11:28-30
Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

Our souls (our mind, will, emotions & conscience) need to rest in Jesus if they are to be healthy. If we allow our souls to be weighed down with pressures, stress, anxiety, troubles and cares, they can’t rest. A soul that is not at rest is an unhealthy soul. When our souls are not at rest, then our bodies can’t truly rest which leads to burnout, exhaustion, depression and nervous breakdowns.

The Bible tells us that we prosper in proportion to the prosperity of our souls. If our souls are not in a state of health and wellness, then the rest of us will suffer too.

3 John 1:2
Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.

If we are consistently having problems in our finances, our health, our relationships etc, then we need to look at how our soul is doing.

Proverbs 22:5
Thorns and snares are in the way of the perverse; He who guards his soul will be far from them.

If we read Matthew 12:8, we see Jesus described as the Lord of the sabbath. In Hebrews 4 we are told to enter into His rest. Jesus is our sabbath rest, and no matter how much physical “down time” you have, if you are not resting in Jesus, you will not truly rest.

Psalm 23:1-3
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake.

Psalm 23 is a great description of what happens when we allow God to lead us into rest. He leads us beside still waters, a place of peace and calm. He restores our souls and we do not want, our financial, health, etc. needs are met.

Remember that outside of Jesus you can do nothing. You may have some success without Him but it will come with great pain and suffering.

John 15:5
“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.

Proverbs 10:22
The blessing of the Lord makes one rich, And He adds no sorrow with it.

Resting in Jesus, is not avoiding living a challenging and exciting life, instead it is not carrying the burdens of worry and anxiety, it’s not carrying the stress, because you know that Jesus is the one that empowers you to do all things. When you are in Jesus and He is in you, His blessings empower you to be successful without the pain of broken lives, relationships etc.

1 Peter 5:6-7
Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.

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Don’t give up!

Hebrews 12:1-3
Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls.

The writer here compares living our Christians lives to running a race. We are encouraged to have endurance, which suggests a long-distance race, rather than a sprint. We are to remain focused on Jesus, who dying on the cross, took our sins upon Himself and set us free from slavery. Jesus is the centre of our faith and our example in all things.

Hebrews 6:11-12
And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end, that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.

The promises of God are true and they are appropriated through faith at the right time (patience). We must not grow weary of doing good, of following God because with perseverance we will succeed.

Galatians 6:9
And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.

Sometimes it feels like life is throwing everything at you or it feels like you are going nowhere fast, but don’t let these feelings take charge. Remember feelings are great for helping us experience life but they are terrible for discerning truth. We need to get our truth from the Word of God, the Rock, anything else is unstable ground. When things look bad to the natural eye, remember that God is for you, He is your deliverer and we live by faith in His promises.

2 Corinthians 5:7
For we walk by faith, not by sight.

We live in a fallen world that will throw things at us, but remember that Jesus has overcome the world and as joint heirs with Him, we get everything He gets. We too can overcome the world through Him!

John 16:33
These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.

Romans 8:16-17
The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.

So be encouraged, don’t give up, run the race with endurance, so that you may overcome in this life.

As King David said in Psalm 27:13
I would have lost heart, unless I had believed That I would see the goodness of the Lord In the land of the living.

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Feeling guilty is not from God

Romans 8:1-2
There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.

Revelations 12:10-11
Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, “Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.

Romans 2:15
who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them

God is not sitting in heaven accusing us of wrong doing and making us feel guilty, it is the devil and our own consciences that do this. What does this then mean for the believer? If God is not accusing us, why are we allowing ourselves to walk in guilt and shame? We need a revelation, an understanding of how Jesus has set us free from sin. We need to know that He has made us righteous, justified and clean before God. It is only when we realise this truth that we will be able to live it out in our lives.

Jesus took all your sins on the cross, He died and shed His blood, once and for all time, taking the sins of the world on himself and giving us His righteousness. We now live in this righteousness through faith.

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

1 Corinthians 1:30
But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption—

Roman 1:17
For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.”

Romans 4:13
For the promise that he would be the heir of the world was not to Abraham or to his seed through the law, but through the righteousness of faith.

Romans 5:17
For if by the one man’s offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.

Philippians 3:8-9
Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ  and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith;

Let’s live in the freedom from guilt that Jesus bought with His life for us. As you realise that you are a born-again, new creation in Christ and no longer a slave to sin, you will start to live a life that reflects this because as a man thinks in his heart, so is he (Prov 27:3). How you truly see yourself is how you will you live and act.

P.S.
Guilt is a heavy, heavy burden. Remember that Jesus said His yoke was easy and His burden was light (Matthew 11:30). Don’t let the devil fool you into carry a burden that’s not from God and is not yours!

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Resist the devil and see him run!

James 4:7
Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.

I often see images on Facebook and elsewhere that show Jesus and the devil arm wrestling or some such thing. These images tend to suggest that the devil is holding his own against Jesus and that there is a 50/50 chance he may succeed. What rubbish! The devil is defeated, Jesus totally and irreversibly defeated the devil on the cross. The devil is a spent force who is awaiting his final incarceration in the lake of fire.

How then does the devil still exert influence on the earth? He speaks to human beings, tempting them with his lies and persuading them to do his bidding.  When we reject Jesus and choose to walk in slavery to sin rather than the freedom he has purchased for us, we play into the devil’s hands. If we submit to God, by receiving the free gift from Jesus of eternal life and victory over sin, we can resist the devil’s temptations and persuasions and he must flee from us!

1 Peter 5:8
Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.

Peter warns us that the devil walks around like a roaring lion. A lion roars to instill fear and to cause his pray to run in the direction of the rest of the lions who are waiting in ambush. When we allow fear to come upon us, we allow the devil to manipulate us in the direction he wants us to go. How many bad decisions do you know of that were made because of fear? Fear of a lack of finances, love and many other things. The world’s system is a system based on fear and lack, God’s system is one of love and provision. This world has been under the influence of the devil for so long, that it reflects him all too much. This is why the Bible says that friendship with the world is enmity with God (James 4:4).

Note that 1 Peter 5:8 says that the devil is seeking those whom he MAY devour. May is a word of permission, the devil cannot devour us if we are sober and vigilant to walk with Jesus.

John 8:31-32
Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

Its only with the truth of God’s Word that we will be able to see the lies of the devil. When tellers at a bank study to spot counterfeit bank notes, they handle and study the real thing over and over. When the fake comes into their hands they spot it immediately because they know the true notes so well. We need to do the same with the Word of God. We should be so familiar with the truths and promises of God’s Word that when the devil tempts us with a fake “good thing”, we are able to spot the lie and send him running.

Let’s not be a people who are easily ensnared by the devil and sin. Let’s be a people submitted to God, who see the devil flee before us!

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