Sanctification

A Passion For Holiness

As time slips through my fingers, scorched by the hot irons of multitudinous responsibilities I juggle, it becomes increasingly difficult to maintain three blogs. That’s why I am praying for guidance while rethinking which venue the Lord would have me focus upon. During the interim, as I seek the Lord’s direction, I decided to share here today my most recent Youtube video from my channel for extended friends and family, and that includes my church family. I call these little informal episodes of edifying  information, encouragement and bible teaching: “Coffee Talks”. That’s because I love discussing spiritual things over a good cup of coffee. If you believe becoming more like Jesus is important, this talk is for you.

Become Beautiful

Categories: Christian Living, Faith, Growing in Faith, Sanctification, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Reach Greater Heights

Ever notice how there always seems to be someone who is dead set on making you look bad? Are many criticisms spewed in your direction?

Nobody ever said that serving the Lord was going to be easy. Following Jesus is not for wimps. In fact, we are told that we will suffer and will be tested. As children of God’s soul garden He uses opposition to our cause in bringing about spiritual growth, enabling us to mature in faith, in knowledge, and in our obedience to truth.

Often I’ve talked about growing in grace and advancing in faith as climbing a spiritual mountain. That’s one of the reasons I named my devotional book: “Meet Him on the Mountain”. A few decades ago when I read Hannah Hurnard’s allegory “Hinds Feet on High Places,” it had a profound impact upon my own walk with Jesus. Perhaps that’s where I get the analogy from.

After you’ve been working at this arduous ascent for a goodly amount of time, it becomes easier to perceive God’s wisdom at work, and to see things from His point of view. Our spirits begin to make greater leaps. Our goals become more lucid. It’s exciting. And it is awesomely wondrous when we perceive ourselves morphing into a new kind of person as a result of God’s Spirit of power at work in us, using His written words. Without the Lord, we never would have been capable of becoming what we are at present. Neither do we cease to improve, nor arrive at perfection during this life below. The crux of this knowledge is that the Holy Spirit releases power into our lives as a direct result of our obedient faith.

The following is just one example of the many ways our responses to others undergo drastic and often surprising changes whenever we are actively growing in grace. Here is a fact that should be easy for all to agree upon.

A person of depth has no need to convince others of his or her significance.

Yes, that person who has been a thorn in your side feels as though he or she is not sufficiently significant.

But then, having a sense of significance is a legitimate need of the human phyche—everyone needs to be needed. When someone’s self-worth plummets, they tend to become hyper critical of others. They will usually target specific people who make the sufferer feel as if they are nearly worthless—an awful psychological pain. We don’t mean to make them feel that way, never-the-less, the Jesus in us outshines them, making them feel less than. So, before you dismiss that abrasive person who often may lash out at you and put you down, realize what it is they need. And then do your best to provide it. I think that’s what Jesus would do.

But you better get prayed up first. Put on the tenderness of compassion and remember to take your brain along too, because you’re going to need discernment. Don’t forget to suit up in the armor of God as you come alongside them and minister to that need.

Yes, it can seem like wasted effort. But what if it’s not? Actually, there is no such thing as wasted effort when that effort is exerted on behalf of Christ.

We have but one life and too soon it will pass—only what’s done for Christ will last.

May God’s favor rest upon you. Have a great day.

Categories: Faith, Growing in Faith, Sanctification, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Ascending Holiness Mountain

 

mount

A little wooden cross glued to a magnet kept wise old adages posted on my refrigerator door where I’d be sure to see them often. Both the words that were written there and the cross which secured them were mementos of things I needed to remember. The symbol was of who I am in Christ, since He’s paid the penalty for me by His death. But since He rose to life on the third day, I am guaranteed to one day rise as well. I must rise to walk in a new life today, since my old one has passed away.

The pinned words were admonitions I should heed. Wise people never forget these words once they ponder their truth.

Sow a thought and reap and act

Sow an act and reap a habit

Sow a habit and reap a character

Sow a character and reap your destiny.

Though Jesus has paid the entire penalty for my sin debt once and for all time, it is still my responsibility to cooperate with the sanctification process. I am being conformed to the holy image of Christ. I must submit to God, and obey His word and His Spirit who was given to me upon my rebirth into eternal life.

My character will be shaped by the thoughts that are allowed to occupy space in my mind. There are many things in the world that will stimulate thoughts, good and bad. This dictates that I must place a guard over what I see and hear. Whether we admit it or not, everything in life has an effect upon us. Another posted adage read as follows.

“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”

The places I go have much to do with what I will see and hear. I must choose carefully where I go. The entertainment and recreation I select has a tremendous impact upon the sights and sounds I will experience, so those must also be carefully scrutinized.

Thoughts come from out of my heart, but there’s also thoughts that are suggested to me, both good and bad. Some are from God, and some from the world, and also some from the enemy of my soul. I must discern and distinguish the source of each thought, and choose to dwell upon those from God, and from the goodness He is growing in my heart. I must immediately reject all other suggestions.

My eternity is at stake

So there’s grave choices I must make

Selfishly, I could just live for today

Ignoring the coming judgment day

But life in Jesus grows sweeter with time

So joyfully I work, holiness mountain to climb.

Categories: Faith, Growing in Faith, Salvation, Sanctification, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

How To Be Sure Of Heaven

heaven

The question weighs heavy on the hearts of many people: “Am I really saved? If I died today or Jesus returns today, will I go to heaven?”

 

Romans 10: 9-10 promises that if we confess with our mouth Jesus is Lord and believe in our heart that God raised Him from the dead that we will be saved.

 

Someone may ask, “But preacher, what about Matthew 7: 21?”  There Jesus said:

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.”

One verse says I just believe and confess, and the other states that I must also do the will of the Father. Is this a contradiction? What is the will of the Father?

 

During Jesus’ earthly ministry the people asked him an important question which weighed upon their hearts, and I believe the same question weighs upon the hearts of people today. They asked, “What must we do to do the works God requires?”  What does God want from us? How can we please Him, and how can we have His favor on our lives? Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.” John 6:28-29

God would have us believe on His Son Jesus as our Christ (Savior). That is His desire for you. But we must understand what kind of belief this is that God requires. The two verses, Romans 19:13 and Matthew 7:21 are saying the same thing. They actually expound and clarify each other.

Listen to this little illustration of a woman who told her husband every single morning before he and she both left for work, “I love you.” Yet, the wife was having an affair with another man from her job. Hmm, not very loving if you ask me.

Considering that love is an action, rather than just a feeling, she was not at all acting in love toward her husband. She did not really love him. The same is true of belief. If we truly believe, we will show it by our actions.

 

If we really love God, we will want to do His will. We will follow Jesus and obey God’s word to the best of our ability—this is what it means to believe. The kind of faith that saves us is the faith that follows Jesus, acting upon what our intellect believes to be true. This is true saving belief, better known as faith.

 

Very graciously, God has made provision for the times we slip-up and make mistakes, or fall to a temptation that we regret. 1st John 1:9 is a wonderful and a comforting promise. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. God is so very merciful, and He knows how difficult it is for us to be perfect. But here’s the big difference between a non-saved person sinning and a saved person sinning. When a saved person sins they hate what they have done. We hate sin just as God does. We desire to be pure, even though we cannot achieve it on our own. God sees our hearts, and He knows the ones who truly hunger and thirst for righteousness. Jesus said: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” 

 

We believe we are forgiven, because He said we are forgiven. This is a part of believing on Jesus. God is always faithful to His word. We confess that we are sinners and need a Savior. After salvation, we confess our sins to maintain a good relationship with the Lord, and to cleanse our consciences. We turn away from those sins instead of running towards them. In other words, we repent. Our sins are covered by the blood of Christ. We also believe that God is working in our hearts to make those errors fewer and fewer as we mature in faith. It is God’s Spirit working inside you, reproducing holiness and creating the beauty of Jesus inside you! It is a growing process. The bible says that one day the glory that is being created in us will one day be revealed. (That’s in Romans chapter 8)

God bestows salvation based upon our faith. Ephesians 2:8: For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–

 

AND THIS SAVING FAITH IS BELIEF IN ACTION!

 

We have such a gloriously wonderful salvation! It is a free gift of God’s truly amazing grace in Christ Jesus. Ours is a relationship of love, of trusting God, and of an intense desire to obey Him, because of our love for Him. Our first act of obedience to God is to be Baptized into Christ and into His church. We will want to be with other people who are saved. God has designed our spiritual growth around the structure of our spiritual family on earth, in the church. We need each other to help us grow, just as with any family. Eternal life and all the riches of Christ are ours through faith in Jesus Christ. Praise God!

“Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Romans 10: 13

 

Pray this prayer with me:

Father God, please reveal your word to my understanding. Thank you for calling me to faith in Christ. I believe in your Son Jesus and the work He did by dying on the cross to take the penalty for my sin. Then he rose from the dead, guaranteeing that I too will be raised up to everlasting life. Please help me to live in a way that reflects my belief in you, my trust in you, and my love for you. Thank you for saving me and giving me this wonderful hope and peace. In Jesus’ precious name, amen.

 

Allow God to speak to your heart today as you read Matthew 7: 13-29. God Bless You!

 

Categories: Faith, Growing in Faith, Salvation, Sanctification, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

God’s Matrimonial Marvels

unity

He was less than attractive to look at, but one might say he was cute, if, that is, they were fond of pugs. When hearing Earnest Farnsworth preach, it was impossible to miss the passion in his voice. Accentuating this auditory indicator was his body language, with movements akin to the conductor of some grand orchestra. Right down to the drool on his chin, Earnest’s messages poignantly manifested his love for people, and for God. Oh he was a beautiful soul. That turned up little nose of his, though repulsive to the casual observer, became a beloved feature to those more astute, who knew him well. Many came to adore this man, whom strangers called ugly.

Some Christians have attempted to conceptualize the physical appearance of the Apostle Paul. Tradition has it that he was a slight man, and unseemly to gaze upon. Austerity marked him as a stern person. Yet, on the inside, he was one of the most magnificent souls to have ever lived.  He was so loved by the churches, that upon hearing they may never see his face again they were deeply saddened. “What grieved them most was his statement that they would never see his face again.” Acts 20:38

What is it that resides on the insides, which can so negate these men’s deficiencies in physical aesthetics? What made them so appealing? Both were Christian men—men of God. But there are thousands of Christians who are ugly both inside and out. What makes the difference? Allow me to propose an answer: Perhaps the ugly souls are not really saved at all? My audacity in suggesting this is influenced by Jesus’ own words.

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles? Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!” Matthew 21-23


“Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” Matthew 7:14 KJV

Allow me to make another bold and audacious statement, but before labeling me a heretic, please hear me out. Those who are extremely beautiful souls, who shine forth with the love of Christ, are God. What? That’s right, I said they are God.

Yes, Father, Son and Holy Spirit “alone” are God, the three in one, and that is no contradiction to what I said just previous. Allow me to present to you the doctrine of sanctification, and of God’s Holy Spirit. Please follow through to hear the conclusion, that you may understand my daring statements.

Back in Genesis, God ordained the institution of marriage. “For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.” Genesis 2:24 NIV

Though a man and a woman are two separate individuals, when joined in marriage, spiritually speaking they are now one flesh. Two become one. This is a spiritual union. We will come back to this in a moment.

Often I hear preachers and teachers of the word speak as if they were not in Christ, while at the same time preaching Christ. I’ve done it myself, many times, but this morning the Lord set something new into my mind. We ask, “What would Jesus do?” Or maybe, “What would Jesus say in this situation?” Really? We don’t already know?    If we are in Christ we should know what Jesus would do, or what He would say, because he lives within us. “…But we have the mind of Christ.” 1st Corinthians 2:16 Either we believe the bible or we do not. That tired old excuse about different ways of interpreting was worn out before it even began. It is nothing more than a rationalization to disobey God.

On this last verse phrase, I was amazed that all translations of scripture were identical, with the exception of a few using “Messiah” in place of “Christ”. We are a part of Him!

In the past I’ve talked a lot about our relationship with Christ, and this relationship is a sweet essence in our doctrine. But there’s a difference between having a relationship to Him, and a relationship with Him. I have a relationship to my desk. I sit before it, and it serves me well. I care for it, wiping off the muffin crumbs and cleaning off the coffee spills. Every so often, I actually tidy up the entire thing, though you may doubt that if you were to see it. It would be rather odd to say, “I have a relationship with my desk.” It is not personal. It has no personage.

We serve a personal God, who is intensely interested in every nanosecond of our lives. Paul speaks in relation to my audacious statements as being a former “mystery” that is now revealed. “To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. “ Colossians 1:27 NIV

Christ uniting Himself to us is the mystery that was not revealed until after Jesus’ ascension to the Father’s side. He is our righteousness, and He is creating holiness within us. This was and is the only way we could overcome our sinful nature. He empowers and enables us to obey God in all things. God did however give a few clues in the Old Testament era, as to how He would change us back into people who are fit to be in His presence. One of those clues is found in Jeremiah 31:31-33.

Here is a key verse when it comes to sanctification. “So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.” Galatians 5:16 NIV

If we are really saved and are true Christians, then Christ is in us. We are Christ’s church. We are the bride of Christ, but we are still in the engagement stage of this marriage to Him. When Jesus was on earth, a pledge to be married was a serious thing, not like today. It was a prenuptial contract. Our wedding shall take place in heaven, and we now are being made ready by becoming holy, as He is holy. Holiness is a qualification for entering the kingdom of God. We are washing our robes in the blood of Christ.

But we have been sanctified, set apart as a holy people, a royal priesthood unto God. “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” 1st Peter 2:9 NIV

But we are also, currently being sanctified, as in the process of becoming holy. “For the Scriptures say, “You must be holy because I am holy.” 1st Peter 1:16. We are becoming holy (being sanctified). We are being conformed to the image of the Son of God. “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son…” Romans 8:29a

We’ve been set apart and joined to God through Christ. More specifically, we are joined to Him through the indwelling of His Holy Spirit, or Spirit of Christ. If in marriage two become one, as God declares, then are we not one with Christ? “But whoever is united with the Lord is one with him in spirit.” 1st Corinthians 6:17 There it is again, our spiritual union (marriage) with Christ. We become one with God.

Is Jesus God, or not?  I pray that you said, “Yes!” If so, and we have become one with Him, then we too, are, in a sense, God. But our union with Him has stipulations. We can only be godlike when we are in full surrender, submission, and obedience to Him. Our union with Christ is contingent upon our submission to His Spirit, who is constantly hoping to unite with our spirits, and have control over us. But he will not take control, we must give it, and surrender ourselves to the will of God. This is FAITH! Do we believe in God’s love or not? Do we believe that He is right in all that he says, and in every way that He leads us? This is what repentance means. We cannot be born of the Spirit until we have repented, agreeing with EVERYTHING God has said, says, or will say. It is a change of mind.

I agree that I am a sinner and in need of God’s grace. I need a Savior, and God has provided that Savior for me in His Son, Jesus Christ. I agree that Jesus is both God and man, that He was born of the Virgin Mary, that he lived and died a physical death on the cross. God placed all the sins of the world in Jesus, and then Christ died and carried our sins to the grave and buried them there. He arose on the 3rd day, was seen by many witnesses, and finally ascended to sit at the right hand of God’s throne in glory. Jesus, our Christ is alive forevermore! We must confess Him before witnesses, and be baptized into Him (Romans 6, 10:9-10) and in obedience to his commands. Yes, salvation is a free gift of God’s amazing grace. This is called justification. But if I am to dwell in His holy presence, I also need to be fully sanctified and made holy. The more I mature in my relationship, which is synonymous with, the more that I trust Him by submitting (obeying), then the more like Him I become. That’s where the beauty comes in.

Our hearts, our minds, and our souls are being fashioned into the most gorgeous creatures you could ever imagine. This is the beauty that made Earnest and Paul so attractive and lovable. It was their union with God, through their submission to God that made them so attractive on the inside. They shone with the glory of Christ, who dwelt within them.

A splendid truth concerning those who are saved and sanctified and being made holy, is that you are the elite, the elect, the chosen of God. You belong to an upper echelon and will one day even judge angels. There is no imagining how exalted your position is. Spiritually you are seated with Christ at the side of the Father. All enemies are being placed under His feet and you are a part of Him. But it is not by your own merits. Jesus has won all of this victory for us. We can accept no credit for simply doing our duty. But kudos anyway, for striving with every fiber of your being to become just like Jesus.

We too can blossom into stunningly winsome people, regardless of our external appearance. So what is your soul and spirit looking like today? Buff it up and make it shine by trusting Christ completely. When we say that we are trusting Him, it means we are obeying Him. We will make mistakes. But they better be mistakes and not deliberate sin! We do not consciously set out to disobey God. If so, then we are not united with Christ, we are still in our sins, and Jesus will say those horrible words we never want to hear. “Depart from me, I never knew you.”  If you still love that sin, then you do not love God with the type of proving love He commands. We love holiness, righteousness and all that is good, beautiful and glorious.

“For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins,” Hebrews 10:26 KJV

In Matthew 18:3 Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

Becoming like children means that He is our Parent and we must be as a humble child and do as our loving Father directs us to do. When a saved soul sins, and they will sin, they will hate that sin just as God does. We won’t be able to stand ourselves until we confess that sin to God. This restores our fellowship with him. We must repent. In addition to the previous definition of repentance there is also this: “I hate my sin, and I never want to do it again!” This is true repentance and confession.

Sadly, we often hear only a partial gospel. “Get your free ticket to heaven.” Yes salvation is free. It is a gift from God. “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 6:23

Yet, this in no way eliminates our responsibility. The New Testament is replete with staunch warnings about our new lives in Christ and what the Lord expects of us. He saved us for a reason, for a divine purpose. One of those reasons is mentioned in Ephesians 2:10 “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which he has before ordained that we should walk in them.” Make no mistake, the redeemed are God’s passionate project. He is working in the world through us, the church. He’s also busy recreating inside us, working to shape you and I into glorious creatures. Let’s rejoice over this next verse: I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. Romans 8:18 NIV Did you catch that? Glory, in us! Praise God!

We are to be obedient, and sin not. But when we do sin, even though we do not want to sin, we have forgiveness. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 1st John 1:9. The Lord is keeping us spotless, if we are truly in Him, united and joined to Him in the closest bond known to the human mind: marriage. We weep and mourn over our sin, forsake and confess it.

Let’s not fool ourselves into thinking we can just take the free ticket to heaven and go on about our business without doing any changing. He will give us the power to make the changes that are requisite for our transformations. Come beautiful butterflies—let’s sing praises to God, who is still at work in you me, and who promises to bring that work to completion.

Don’t get me wrong, I do not believe in salvation by works. But I do not consider obedience a work. We must forsake our sin. How can one rationalize willful sin and explain away the following verses? “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.” Galatians 6:7-8. NIV

This was written to Christians, saved souls, besides, it says “Whoever”.

I can’t wait to see your beauty unveiled in its entire splendor. We see only a small portion of that resplendent loveliness in this life; but it is enough to distinguish those who are truly being conformed to be like the one who is the most gorgeous of all: Jesus. He is the one who has made all of this possible. May Christ Jesus and God the Father be forever praised!

 

 

 

 

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