Thursday, August 15, 2013

Finding our identity in Christ alone….

One of the greatest blessings we have as believers in the Lord Jesus Christ is to discover and understand who we are in Him and what God thinks of us!  Knowing who we are in Christ is essential to walking out this life in righteousness, peace and joy. 

The beginning of renewing our minds is to find out the truth of what God’s word says about us and what the blood of Jesus purchased for us.  God has given us incredible promises in the New Testament that tell us who we are. Why?  Why did He do that and why do we need to know?
Well, according to 2 Peter 1:4 – “By which he has granted to us his precious and exceedingly great promises; that through these you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world by lust.”

So, Peter says that God gave us His promises that through them we might become partakers of the divine nature.  The divine nature is revealed to us through the Holy Spirit as we hear and believe the promises. (Faith comes through hearing the word - Romans 10:17)

1 Corinthians 2:12 – “Now, we didn’t receive the spirit that belongs to the world. Instead, we received the Spirit who comes from God so that we could know the things which God has freely given us.” God's Word Translation

God gave us Holy Spirit to empower us and to reveal Christ in us, but also so that we could know the things which God has freely given us.  Freely given!  In other words, God is not hiding His promises or His gifts or anything else from us.  He gave us the Holy Spirit to reveal those things to us, but unless we believe it, we will not understand who we truly are.

To paraphrase Dr. Neil Anderson in his book, “Victory Over the Darkness” a person will never be able to consistently live and behave in a way that they do not consistently see themselves.  In other words, as long as you see yourself as “just an old sinner saved by grace” that is how you will live – like an old sinner!

You are not an old sinner saved by grace! That is a lie from the enemy!  The bible says if anyone is in Christ they have become a new creation and old things have passed away. The moment you became a believer in Jesus, you became brand new. (2 Corinthians 5:17)

And it doesn’t stop there!  You are the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus from that moment on! (2 Corinthians 5:21) You have been made free from sin and have become a slave of righteousness – you are righteous at all times – you just can’t help but be righteous! (Romans 6:18)  Why?  Because the new nature that is in you is righteous.  Your old nature was crucified at the cross – reckon yourself dead to sin but alive to God in Christ. ( Romans 6:6, 6:11)

It is time that we actually believe what the bible says about us instead of man’s tradition or man's opinion says about us!

A person who does not grasp the truth of what God says in His word about them will continue to be driven by winds of doctrine, and will allow the enemy and people to spoil them through philosophy and vain deceit after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. (Colossians 2:8, Ephesians 4:14)

Jesus said that the Holy Spirit would lead us into all truth; that He would not only comfort us, but also teach us.(John 14:26)

What does God’s word say about you and me? 

What does it mean in relating to God? 

What does it mean as we walk out our earthly lives?
Here are just a few scripture references that tell us what God thinks of us.  You should consider these personally directed to you! 
Romans 5:1 – I am justified through faith in Jesus.  Justification through faith!
2 Corinthians 5:21 – I am the righteousness of God in Christ.  This is an incredible exchange.  God took all of my unrighteousness and put it on Jesus, and then put all of Christ’s righteousness on me!
John 17:23 – God loves me like He loves Jesus!  Think how much value we must have that God was willing to give up the precious life of Jesus!
Romans 6:2 – I have died to sin.
Romans 6:6 – My old man was crucified with Christ.  Why?  That the body of sin might be done away.
Romans6:7 – I am freed from sin.
Romans 6:11 – I am dead to sin but alive to God in Christ.
Romans6:14 – Sin does not have dominion over me. Why? Because I am under grace not law
Romans 6:18 – I am set free from sin, and I am a slave of righteousness.  A slave does not have any choice but to obey its master.  My master is Jesus and He says I am righteous!

Ephesians 2:6 – I am seated with Christ in the heavenlies!
There are incredible promises that apply to us as the Body of Christ.  These were just a few that talk about who we are and what we have in Christ.  I want to encourage you to seek those promises out and allow the Holy Spirit to reveal how they apply to your life. 



Sunday, August 4, 2013

A Can of Worms...

I thought I would open up a can of worms today…

So where do you go to church?

How do you go to something you are?

Huh? What?

How do you go to something you are?

You know what I mean - where do you attend services – where is your church building?

The church is people, not a building. The church, or ecclesia in the Greek, can mean many things, but nowhere in the New Testament is it described as a building! It mostly refers to 1) the whole body of Christians; 2) a company of Christians gathering for worship, sharing, and teaching; 3) a body of believers in a district – for example, “…To the church of Galatia…”

In other words, it really does just mean people. The church is people who have been called out of darkness through faith in Jesus Christ. People not only make up the church, they are the church.

The building or home or place that we meet is not what the Bible refers to as church.

If you mean, where do I fellowship with other believers, then I could tell you any place I find them. I also meet regularly with friends for fellowship in the Lord. Some people call that a house church or simple church, and some people don’t label it at all.

What do you mean by that? What is a house church?

However and whatever you want to call it, what I am talking about is simply a gathering of believers. Typically this happens in someone’s home, but it could be their office or shop, a restaurant, or any place at all.
We gather to worship Jesus, to pray for needs, to share the Word of God and minister together.

Yeah, but don’t you miss being part of a church?

I am part of a church. I’m part of the church!

Again, you know what I mean. So don’t you attend services in a regular church?

Actually, sometimes I do. I even occasionally minister in traditional churches.

However, there is something about gathering with a small group of like-minded believers to hear what God has been ministering to each one during the week that blesses and edifies. Frankly, this can only happen in a smaller group… It is generally not practical to try this in a large group setting. Logistically, it would be very difficult.

Paul the apostle described gatherings of believers actually sharing with each other as something good and necessary:

“How is it then, brethren? Whenever you come together, each of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification.”1 Corinthians 14:26

“Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord.” Ephesians 5:19

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” Colossians 3:16
There is something about inviting people into your home, over for a barbeque, or to a party that causes them open up and sometimes even share what is really happening in their lives. Inviting someone out for coffee or a golf game may open the door for the Holy Spirit to minister in a way that would never happen in a service while you stare at the back of someone's head.
Sure, it could happen in a traditional service, but generally doesn't. It may happen, but it is rare.
Most people can "play church" for a couple of hours on a Sunday morning. They can put on their "church" face, and pretend in a large group. They greet you during the 2-minute "fellowship time" and say, "Peace be with you," but you may never know what is really happening in their lives.
Their kids may be on drugs, their spouse having an affair, and they are ready to quit, but they will not open up about that during a Sunday service. No way! No one wants to have all that out there in front of the pastor and congregation - especially not during a service. Besides, if someone gets emotional in a service, they are generally ushered outside - and fast!
I guess what I am saying is that there is something genuine about being face to face with a small group of believing friends and sharing what is happening in your life and what God is speaking to your heart. It is a safe place, and people can feel free to reveal their victories and failures.
Jesus said it best when He declared, “For wheretwo or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.” Matthew 18:20.

If Jesus thought that two or three were enough of a gathering of believers for Him to show up, why don’t we?