LIVING THE CHRISTIAN LIFE

Until we have received the Holy Spirit, we cannot possibly bear righteous fruit like “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Gal 5:22-23). Unless a person has died to self (water baptism is the sign to the world we have died to self) and received the Holy Spirit, literally born again of the Spirit, they are not able to live the Christian life.

Take captive every thought

The Apostle Paul said “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Cor 10:5). So how do we demolish such thoughts when they enter our mind? Again, without God’s Spirit, we have no hope of reforming our own thoughts. Paul has said that “The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Cor 4:4), so until we’re set free from the clutch of Satan and his minions, we remain blind, even though we think we can see. Only trusting in Christ allows us to resist the Devil, and only then will he flee from us. David had a way of resisting evil thoughts. He wrote, “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you” (Psalm 119:11), so along with the Spirit of God, we have the Word of God to help us avoid such evil thoughts, and only then are we able to “not sin against” God.

Be transformed

One way to eliminate something is to replace it with something, and in the case of our thoughts, replace them with something much better. For example, we can dwell on “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” (Phil 4:8), instead of dwelling on whatever is sinful, lustful, or pleases the flesh. By allowing the Spirit of God to renew our minds, we will “not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Rom 12:2). With the Spirit of God and the Word of God, we can renew our minds. The Word of God allows us to walk in safety since the “word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105). His Word shows me the path in order that I might stay on the path and avoid leaving the path. That’s the power of God’s Word.

Sanctification

Before conversion, our thoughts gravitate toward whatever pleases us, with little or no regard for those around us. If we are fulfilling the desires of the flesh, we could care less about the fruits of the Spirit. Our minds will be held captive until we repent of our sins and put our trust in Christ. Only then can we have God’s supernatural power; the power of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of God takes the Word of God and changes the child of God into being more like the Son of God. I don’t mean we’ll be sinless, but we should sin less over time. Sanctification takes time…in fact, it takes a lifetime, and only until we enter the kingdom will our minds be completely free of evil thoughts, desires, and intentions.

Conclusion

You cannot take captive any thoughts you have but only for a moment or only temporarily. Eventually, our minds will gravitate to unholy things, that is unless we are in the Word of God daily and have the Spirit of God in us. When we’re saved, we receive a new nature…the nature of God, and even though it falls infinitely short of God’s mind, we strive to have it renewed daily by prayer, by the Word, and by His Spirit, so we can receive help from God in overcoming our thought life, particularly our thoughts on things of the world and of the flesh. Paul asked the Corinthians, “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ” (1 Cor 2:16). Paul admonishes us to “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men” (Phil 2:5-7). When we focus on serving others in humility, there is no room for selfish thoughts to satisfy the flesh. Instead of it being all about us, the mind of Christ makes it all about others. We cannot control our thoughts but the Spirit of God can. The Spirit of God allows us to “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves” (Phil 2:3).

PERSECUTION COMES WITH THE TERRITORY

What an entire generation of Christians do not understand is that refusing to align your language, choices, and actions with scripture is a blatant denial of Christ Jesus. Attacks on the doctrine of scripture are attacks on the Kingdom of God. Likewise, if we deny His word, we also deny Him. We cannot claim Jesus as our own and also continue to endorse the world’s philosophies. As the years continue to pile up in our postmodern society, so do the excuses Christians make about why they are willing to deny Jesus and His doctrine.

We would all do well to meditate on Jesus’ warning in Luke 9:62. He says, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” Here, Jesus is reminding us all not to “look back” at the worldly life we left behind. In doing so, we err like Lot’s wife did in Sodom – not trusting God’s provision. When we take our eyes off the prize and look back at the world we left behind, we declare ourselves unfit for the kingdom of God.

Christians, a day is coming when you will be forced to make this very decision: plow forward or look back.

But false prophets arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction.” 2 Peter 2:1

Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.Matthew 24:9-13

God’s word warns us of many last days false prophets and teachers and apostasy in the church, all evident now and proof we are living in the last days. Prepare your heart now, you will be tempted to deny your Lord and Saviour. You need to consider the cost of following Christ but also the cost if you turn your back on Him. Your eternal destiny is at stake. We need to be prepared to lay down our lives for the sake of the Kingdom of God. Remember, that it is “He who endures to the end that shall be saved” Matthew 24:13

Let us meditate on the apostle’s words. “Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death.Philippians 3:8-10

While our current persecution might be light, in comparison to what other brothers and sisters are experiencing in the world, it is still persecution. The doctrine and truth of God’s Word is being put to shame in our culture. It is time for you to decide if you will heed the call. Will you follow Christ or is the cost too much for you to bear? Far too long has the church been idle, ignoring this question. Will you take the yoke and plow the field for the Kingdom of God? Yes, there will be a cost for following Christ. But in such work, you will find joys and wonders of which you never dreamed. Pray that when you are forced to decide between plowing forward or looking back, you will choose the yoke of Christ. Pray that you will be a faithful slave of Christ. It is time for Christians to start owning that title.

Much of this post is taken from the article entitled Doubling-Down on Christian Persecution: The Cost of Following Jesus  JANUARY 19, 2021 by Jack Lee http://www.patheos .com

HOPE FOR AN ETERNAL FUTURE

Saints, by receiving the Holy Spirit, we grow in the knowledge of God through the Word and we experience the power of God producing the fruit of the spirit in our lives, of love, joy, peace, patience, faithfulness, goodness, gentleness, kindness and self control . The Holy Spirit provides the gifts of the spirit for ministry; gift of faith, tongues, interpretation of tongues, words of knowledge, prophecy, wisdom, discernment, healing and miracles. As a result, we have full hope for an eternal future and full hope for today as well! When we have needs, we are invited to the throne of grace where we can expect the Lord to speak to us, imparting faith.  By faith Jesus is our healer, by faith Jesus is our provider, by faith Jesus sets us at liberty from all that would come against us in this life.

Let’s learn and enjoy the way of faith.  Trust the Lord completely, for He cares for us. Listen and receive the faith that comes by the word He speaks to us by the Holy Spirit. The word that is the sword of the Spirit to defeat our circumstances.

Let us also look at what Paul had to say about living the Christian life.

For I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me to bring the Gentiles to obedience—by word and deed, by the power of signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God Romans 15:18-19

THE SACRIFICIAL WITNESS OF GOD’S PEOPLE

The following article is an abbreviation of a great article that needs wide circulation at this time. The book of Revelation: A Love Story! October 20th, 2020 by Rob Dalrymple on the Patheos website http://www.patheos .com.

Rob Dalrymple says, I believe that the book of Revelation is a story in which the people of God are called by God to faithfully, lovingly, and sacrificially follow the Lamb for the sake of the nations. As a result, it is my contention that the book of Revelation is a love story.

When we learn to imitate Jesus, when we learn to love like Jesus, when we learn to lay down our lives for the sake of others like Jesus, then the nations might also follow the Lamb. When Jesus interacted with people, He loved them; He cared for them; He wept with them. 

 Dalrymple says I believe in the Lake of Fire. I believe in it so much that I do not want to see anyone go there. And I believe that the message of the book of Revelation, and the whole Bible for that matter, is telling us that the means by which people will be spared from the Lake of Fire is through the faithful, loving, and sacrificial witness of God’s people.

We need to be sure we are presenting to our world the loving God who made Himself known throughout the N.T. The loving God who is delaying His return so that all may be saved (2 Peter 3:9) as well as the just and righteous God who will pour out His wrath on a world that is totally corrupt doing evil continuously.

The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed. 2 Peter 3:9-10

OUR RESPONSIBILITY AS CHRISTIANS FOR OUR CITIES AND NATIONS

Christians are under attack as never before. Now, those who believe in the biblical definition of marriage and just two genders created by God are being labelled as bigots and treated as such by governments, employers, and, schools.

Intercessors can change the atmosphere in their cities through prayer, worship, and a corporate spiritual authority far greater than any demonic threat or attack.  The posture of our hearts and the words from our mouths determine the atmosphere in a place.  The power of our praises and our prayers can shift atmospheres in a room, a building, a neighbourhood, and even an entire city.

We are still to see what God’s response will be to the prayers of the thousands of saints that gathered to pray in Washington just prior to the election.

Thousands pray in Washington September 25th and 26th 2020

 In the early Church, unity was so strong that Scriptures speak of a “great grace” that was released in the city.  This grace opened the door to miracles, signs, and wonders, and salvations on a daily basis (see Acts 4:32-34).  Earlier in this same chapter, it speaks of their daily fellowship and breaking of bread.  Because of these things, God’s grace empowered them to do far beyond what they could have done in the natural.

This should be our desire as we come together as watchmen in prayer over our cities and nation.  We can pray in such agreement with heaven that the atmosphere over the city begins to be permeated with the grace and favour of the Lord.  Our spiritual adversary will continually find ways to spread fear, chaos, turmoil, and hopelessness over the land.  It is our responsibility to displace those demonic spirits by keeping our corporate prayer altars ablaze. 

We must use our authority in Christ to displace rulers in high places and declare the work of the cross and the power of Christ’s resurrection.  Let’s agree together to speak life instead of death, order instead of chaos, and faith instead of fear.

ARE YOU A TRUE BELIEVER IN CHRIST?

“In Him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of His glory. In Him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in Him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.” Ephesians 1:11-14

The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.Romans 8:16-17

These verses confirm that it is only those who repent, believe in Jesus and His sacrifice on The Cross, they receive and are sealed with the Holy Spirit.

“And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever1 John 2:17

“If you know that He is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of Him.1 John 2:29

He will render (repay) to each one according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, He will give eternal life; but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury.” Romans 2:6-8

These three verses truly verify that it is only those that do the will of God and practise righteousness are granted eternal life.

“But, O Lord of hosts, who judges righteously, who tests the heart and the mind,…” Jeremiah 11:20 (ESV)

“For you, O God, have tested us; you have tried us as silver is tried.” Psalm 66:10 (ESV)

“the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in Him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” 1 Peter 1:7-9

“Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.” James 1:12

Note: the above four verses makes it clear that God tests the hearts and minds of true believers.

Faith is what is so very precious to God. And that is why God has to test people to find out if they have genuine faith. That is the biblical truth of the matter.

DO YOU REALLY KNOW FULLY, WHO YOU ARE IN CHRIST?

 “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of the One having called you out of darkness into His marvellous light.1 Peter 2:9 

“You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16 

Once you enter in the Light of Christ, where everything has meaning, everything is important, everyone has purpose, then, and only then, can you truly love others and live a life that is pleasing to God.  We become keenly aware of the importance of obedience to God and how we perceive and care for others.  This is not simply a gospel of “being nice” but a deep knowledge that the devil is “playing for keeps.”  We must view people as souls either on the path to destruction or walking the straight and narrow.  We are not permitted to “cross the road” or “look away” when we see someone taking a beating by Satan.  Like the Good Samaritan, we are to GET INVOLVED.

Remember, when Jesus sent out the 70 disciples “to heal the sick, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.” they returned saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name.” Luke 10:9,17

Jesus told them not to rejoice in this fact but rejoice instead that their names are written in the Book of Life (Luke 10:20), He nevertheless acknowledged the fact that devils MUST obey them. This is TRUTH! When passionate Christians wake up in the morning, Satan should literally SHAKE IN FEAR. We should be a daily reminder to him that his days are numbered. Sadly, how many of us believe and act out this TRUTH!

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, It is time for your army of spiritual warriors to be released.  Let us not be bound up with things of this earth but let us set our sights on Your Heavenly Kingdom. Let us never forget the One who died for us so that we may win the spiritual battle with the enemy of our souls.  Already, we are seeing more of our brothers and sisters in Christ being martyred for their faith and we know from end times prophecies, that in the last days before Jesus returns that will only increase. Help us to be fully cognisant of the sacrifices that will need to be made. Please send the power of Your Holy Spirit afresh this Pentecost to equip us so that we may be courageous warriors in Your service. 

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I HAVE DECIDED TO FOLLOW JESUS

What an inspiring story behind this song. ” I have decided to follow Jesus”. Listen to this short video and be inspired or at least challenged.

It tells the story of a family in the Garo tribe from Meghalaya, then called Assam in India, who faced persecution just because of their faith in Jesus Christ. The lyrics are based on the last words of a Garo tribesman.

May I suggest you share it widely amongst family and friends.

DIED TO SELF, ALIVE IN CHRIST

Paul tells us our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit and to offer our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God. He also tells us not to be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of our mind. Why? So that we will know the perfect will of God for this day and the days ahead.

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.Romans 12:1

To be transformed, not only do I need Jesus, His blood sacrifice and the Holy Spirit, I also need the Word of God.

Jesus, in His prayer to His heavenly Father said:

Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. ” John 17:17

This is how we transform our mind, with the Word of truth. It is only then, we will hear from God, perceive correctly the here and now, and know what God has for us to do today.

Our love for Jesus must be such that our hearts desire is to pray this prayer for all of those that God leads us to, or brings across our path. We must never forget God is the one who chooses – “But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth.” 2 Thessalonians 2:13

Jesus, you have brought this person to me, please help me to show them who You are. Also, I know, that by the power of the Holy Spirit, You are able to transform whatever their deficits are into victories, Holy Spirit show me the part I am to play in their journey with you.

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Is it true that God chooses people to have eternal life and yet we must believe to have eternal life? Why are we urged to believe when it is God who gives us the faith?

Therefore He has mercy on whom He wills, and whom He wills He hardens.
You will say to me then, “Why does He still find fault? For who has resisted His will?” But indeed, O man, who are you to reply against God? Will the thing formed say to him who formed it, “Why have you made me like this?” Does not the potter have power over the clay, from the same lump to make one vessel for honour and another for dishonour? Romans 9:18-20

The answer to this paradox is unknown: it is a mystery but Scriptures tell us both are true. Hence, it is imperative we are led by the Holy Spirit moment by moment. The old hymn says it all: “Trust and obey, for there is no other way, to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.”

TRIALS COME WITH THE CHRISTIAN LIFE

Another great message from Francis Chan on living the Christian life. It’s a continual battle, spiritual warfare. It’s so easy to sew to the flesh, to give in to earthly desires,, but remember the following verse of Scripture – we can fool family and friends but not God when we do so. God is not mocked.

“Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.Galatians 6:7-10

We all sin, even Francis and certainly me, but as Francis Chan points out God is merciful and when we sincerely repent and turn back to Him He forgives and forgets. Giving up is not an option, it is the overcomers that inherit the Kingdom of God.

Nothing you do in this life matters apart from what you do for God.