Reign in Life

Do you want to reign in life? You can by receiving an abundance of GRACE and the GIFT of righteousness.

I believe that the church’s biggest problem today is “self righteousness.” When we exchange our self righteousness which counts on our own goodness (behavior) to earn us something from God, and instead believe we will receive from God because of Christ’s righteousness, we will reign in life. For it is by RECEIVING an “abundance of grace” and the “gift of righteousness” that we are enabled to reign in life (Romans 5:17). This is NOT man’s way, but it IS God’s way. Even to reign over sin requires that we live under grace (Romans 6:14). We also receive our right standing with God through Christ’s behavior – His perfect life and work on the cross, not our own. Righteousness is a GIFT, not something we can earn. Our flesh fights this truth because it is contrary to human pride. And, the enemy leads us into defeat deceiving us with teachings from those who do not understand God’s amazing grace that put us under “laws” instead of “grace.”  The Christian life is all by grace through faith (Eph 2:8-9) from beginning to end. The Apostle Paul wrote to the Galatians who were being tempted to mix behavior as a means to earn favor with grace, saying, “Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?” (Galatians 3:3 ESV).

Start reigning in life today! Believe and Receive. That’s your part. The rest has been done by Christ.

~ Pastor Sarah

God’s Reigning Power & Our Obedience

As you know, I am still working on my Master’s degree through Regent University’s School of Divinity. I love interacting with the other students on our discussion boards and I thought I would share my comment for this week’s discussion board with you on the interpretive role of the Book of Joshua in a contemporary Christian context in lieu of 2 Timothy 3:16-17. Perhaps God will speak to you through it. Feel free to enter into the discussion.

The Book of Joshua is a theological history centered on God’s role with His people. He is at the center of every activity. He commands the Israelites to enter into Canaan. The occupants of Jericho are terrified because they have heard of the power and faithfulness of the Israelites’ God so it is He who terrifies them. It is God who parts the Jordan so that the Israelites may cross its raging waters, and, it is the Lord’s army, His strategies, and, thus, His victories on every account. In the midst of God’s reigning power, we see His faithfulness as we realize that the giving of Jericho is the first fruits of the land promised Abraham to be given to his descendants.

Interpreting the book of Joshua in light of 2 Timothy 3:16-17, I would suggest that faith in God’s reigning power coupled with His faithfulness to fulfill His promises to His people is the foundation for our training and growth in righteousness because without such, we are weak in our obedience and unable to perform the good works ordained that we should do. If we fail to take the steps we are commanded that lead to the fulfillment of the promise, then we may fail to experience God’s reign and faithfulness in whatever challenge lie before us, whether it is to conquer an addiction or to walk into a particular destiny God has showed us He wants to give us.

The message of the book of Joshua is as relevant for believers today as it was for God’s ancient people. God reigns and He is faithful to fulfill His promises as we step out in faith in obedience to Him.

Unlocking True Gospel Obedience

faith through loveSome Christians do no more than penance as they outwardly conform to a set of rules. Romans 3:20 tells us that no flesh can be justified by the deeds of the Law for by it is a knowledge of sin. Galatians 5:6 tells us that the Law doesn’t count for anything for the New Testament believer. What counts is faith working through love.Therefore, true  obedience to count for anything must be motivated by love.

We are grateful to know our sins have been forgiven  – past, present, and future and we walk on eagerly awaiting the hope of righteousness. However the key to unlock change in your life at this point in the journey is to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that even though you fail, you are ALREADY completely righteous before God. So I ask you, “Do you know you are the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus?” Without such knowledge you will lack the power for permanent change, to respond to others in love, and to pursue holy living. It is trust in the REALITY that you are forgiven, accepted, and welcomed as a righteous child of God that gives you the courage to approach God for the help you need to break free of addictions or a sinful lifestyle. Faith, hope, and courage spring forth from knowing you are right NOW perfect in God’s sight.

Yes, Christ loves you so much that He didn’t just give you a clean slate to start your Christian walk from, but He gave you His record of good works so you can rest and enjoy your relationship with Him. He gave you His righteousness. It is a free gift. It was not given to you because of who you are but because of who He is. This is amazing love that when received, transforms lives!

When we truly believe we have been given in Christ Jesus the gift of righteousness, and we do not have to earn it, we are enabled to respond to our rebellious teens, our grouchy spouses, and our angry co-workers and employers in love. We are enabled because we ourselves have known such amazing love.

This love is the ONLY motivation powerful enough to turn self penance to true gospelized obedience where “faith is working through love” (Galatians 5:6). Do you know it? Have you embraced it? It is your key to unlock true gospel obedience!

1 John 4:19 “We love because He first loved us.”

“Abide in Him?” What Does it Mean? Does It Mean to Pray and Obey More?

“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:4-5).

Yes, Christ is the vine, and we are the young branches in union with Him who are toldgrapevines to “abide.” However, the mistake we make so often when reading this passage of Scripture is that we immediately begin to try to figure out what we must do in order to abide when the point of the imperative being given here is simply that we are to receive. Thus, we miss altogether the indicative statement being made, and that is that all the nourishment we need to produce fruit comes from the vine (Jesus Christ), and not from ourselves. This must first be acknowledged before we will see the fruit of true obedience, an obedience that flows from the heart and is not just an outward action in an effort to conform.

Let’s consider the new growth on a grapevine. Obviously, the new growth is helpless and unable to do anything to support the vine from which it is attached. The tendril goes on to maturity, by resting there in union with the vine, receiving all that it needs to grow in strength, endurance, and fruitfulness from the vine itself. If it becomes separated, it’s fate will be death.

You see, it is not our ability to bear fruit that is the focus here. The emphasis is to rest in Christ’s ability and His dedication because of His amazing love for us, to transform us and produce the fruit He desires of us. This passage is all about Jesus Christ, and His promise of devotion and affection to produce in and through us, fruit. It is not about what we ourselves need to try to do, separated from Him. Christ clearly tells us, we can do nothing in our own efforts. However, as we know and abide in His love by believing Him concerning His love and what He has done for us, and as we expose ourselves to the Word of God, and rest in His promise  concerning what He is doing in us, we are continually cleansed (John 15:3) and we are guaranteed to bear fruit.

In other words, yes, we are called to obey God. Our love is seen in our obedience to Him. But,  our obedience is not a life of striving. The fruit of obedience doesn’t come before receiving the nutrients from the vine, which are only received if we are abiding. We abide by trusting wholly in Christ, not ourselves. True obedience is a by-product of what God has planted and is tending within us. We must leave our self improvement programs and efforts, and our tendency to trust in ourselves, and instead, trust fully in Jesus Christ. We must trust in His love for us, believing in what He has dJohn 15_9one and is doing in us.

We can believe and rest in our union with Him in order to absorb all we need to produce fruit as His life flows into us to nourish our souls. Jesus said, “I’ve loved you with the same intensity of love that my Father has for me” (John 15:9). Believe that this kind of love is possible and that it is yours.” Rest in this love and He will see to it that you bear the fruit He has intended for you.

Furthermore, notice I said “for you.” Each branch will bear the same kind of fruit, yet perhaps a different amount of fruit, according to the Lord’s desire and plan, so don’t get caught up in comparing your fruit to another, resulting in either condemnation or pride. Remember, to rest in His love and promise, and know it is His ability not yours, to produce fruit in your life. It is all about Him and what He has done and is doing.

I will close with this quote I love from Elyse Fitzpatrick which sums it up well. “We are eternally united to Christ, the true vine, and His fruitfulness is ours. Your obedience will grow because he’s your husbandman. Rest here. Endure here. Remain here. Tarry here. Abide”

 

 

Be Established in Grace

Hebrews 13_9

What do you need today? God’s provision for  spiritual growth as well as material needs is experienced increasingly more in our lives, not according to our goodness, but according to our belief in His love and desire to provide for us through His amazing grace despite our failures and weaknesses. So let your heart be established in God’s grace (Hebrews 13:9) and abide in His love – (John 15:9). It is in resting in God’s amazing, unconditional love and grace that you as a believer in Christ will be positioned to experience His undeserved, but available provision for you!John 15_9

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Your comments and questions are welcome. Disagreements are fine as long as presented in a loving manner that honors Christ. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to share my thoughts with you and for sharing yours with me.

Spiritual Growth:Be Like a Child

Becoming like little children who are creative and counter-intuitive, without self-consciousness –unafraid of what others may think of us – is key for genuine spiritual growth. We can’t truly walk in faith unless we care only what God thinks about us and unless we have a willingness to look foolish and be the unique person God created us to be. In fact, the more we grow up spiritually, the more we resemble a child, the more nonconforming we become, and the more passionate we become, because we are becoming more like Christ who Himself was  extremely passionate and an extreme nonconformist for that day.

Chasing After Your God-Sized Dreams (Pt. 2: Defying the Odds)

With God, we can defy the odds. What appears impossible to us as three-dimensional beings is very possible for God who has no dimensional limitations whatsoever. In fact, our impossibilities are the soil in which God performs miracles. To experience God in this way, however, we must get the right perspective about God, who He is, how big He is, that nothing is too difficult for Him, that He is sovereign, that He wants the best for us, and that He is always at work in the unseen realm setting us up for success. In other words, it is our view of God that determines what we have faith for, what we speak, what we ask God for, what we do and what we become.

On the other hand, our irrational fears and misconceptions can prevent us from being who God has designed us to be, living the life He has called us to live, and experiencing all the good He has for us. After weighing the consequences, our fears can prevent us from doing what is right. We should pray for courage to do what is right even in the midst of our fears. We can pray that we recognize and seize the opportunities God has laid before us that can catapult us into our destiny. To do this, however, we need to unlearn our paralyzing fears and misconceptions and replace them with God’s Word, aligning our thoughts with His. To do this, we need to spend time with God and grow in our love relationship with Him. As we are perfected in His love, our faith is energized, and enables us to face our fears and we begin to experience the liberty, fulfillment, and fruitfulness God has intended for us. We begin to walk on the offense instead of the defense and we begin to storm the gates of hell.