Let Christ Live Through Us
Matthew 9:9 “And as Jesus passed forth from thence, he saw a man, named Matthew, sitting at the receipt of custom: and he saith unto him, Follow me. And he arose, and followed him.”
To “follow” means to come or go after; move behind in the same direction; to come or go with; to accept the guidance or leadership of; to adhere to the cause or principles of; to be governed by; obey; comply with.
When a person first comes to Jesus, it is impossible to know everything that following Jesus entails. No one, however, should be fearful of making a total commitment because of some imagined problem that may never come to pass. There should be a willingness to forsake everything to follow Jesus. Once we make that decision, then Christ begins to live through us and we find a strength that is not our own, equal to whatever test we may encounter, Galatians 2:20.
It is Christ living through us that is the secret of victorious Christian living. It is not us living for Jesus, but Jesus living through us. Failure to understand this simple truth is at the root of all legalism and the performance mentality. The law focuses on the outer man and tells it what it must do. Grace focuses on the inner man and tells it what is already done through Christ. Those who are focused on what they must do are under law. Those who are focused on what Christ has done for them are walking under grace.
Just as the life of a root is found in the soil, or a branch in the vine, or a fish in the sea, so the believer’s true life is found to be in union with Christ. The Christian life is not just hard to live, it’s impossible in our human strength. The only way to walk in victory is to let Christ live through us.
Matthew 7:20 “Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.”
The way that you can tell whether a person is genuine or not is by the fruit they produce. This fruit is speaking of lifestyle. Jesus made the point that you don’t get bad fruit from a good tree, and you don’t get good fruit from a bad tree. Many people say one thing, but their actions speak so loudly that you really can’t hear what they are saying. If you are in doubt about whether a person is genuine or not, or whether you should receive from them and follow their teaching, look at the fruit they are producing.
In evaluating ministers and ministries, more attention should be given to the fruit that is being produced. Failure to do this could lead someone to reject and even discredit a minister who simply makes a mistake or is wrong in one area. Every minister has shortcomings, just as every other member of the Body of Christ does. But that doesn’t mean his ministry is bad. Look at the fruit.
Fruit is the true test of ministers and ministries. If people are being saved, if lives are being changed, there is good fruit. Even though the minister may say something bad and make mistakes, the fruit is good.
Therefore, you can say that the tree is good. When a person says all of the right things and may seem sincere, but you see the lives of people around them shattered and torn, and in confusion and distress, then the fruit is bad. You can judge the effectiveness of a person by the fruit that they are producing in their life. In ministry you can judge the effectiveness of a minister by the fruit that his ministry is producing.
Today, make sure that the fruit that comes from your life is positive. Make sure that you are making a positive impact on people’s lives, that you are turning people to the Lord and not leaving them hurt and confused. People are looking at you to see what type of fruit you are bearing.
MATTHEW 6:10 “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.”
We do not have to live a beggarly existence here on this earth and just wait till we all get to heaven to begin to experience the benefits of our salvation. Jesus told us to pray “thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.” In heaven, He will “wipe away all tears from their eyes”, Revelation 21:4, so here on earth we can pray and believe to receive “joy unspeakable and full of glory”, 1 Peter 1:8. Healing, prosperity, and all the other benefits of heaven are ours here on earth to the degree that we can believe and receive them.
It is God’s will to deliver us from this present evil world. The Lord didn’t save us from our sins so we could be “saved and stuck” until we go to heaven. He made provision for our success in this life as well. Our salvation is effectual in this life too, not just the one to come. Some people have relegated all the benefits of salvation to, “when we all get to Heaven.” But that’s not so. Through the atonement of Jesus, we have been delivered from sickness, poverty and demonic control, as well as sin, in this present life. To the degree we believe that, we will begin to experience the physical benefits of our salvation in the “rough now and now,” not just in the “sweet by and by.”
Our salvation is not just “pie in the sky,” but it is victory in this present life. Today believe God to start receiving every benefit of your salvation here in this life, and help others to receive what has been purchased for them also. We don’t have to wait until we get to Heaven.
Matthew 5:39 “But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.”
Which would you rather have – God defending you, or you defending yourself? That’s the choice that Jesus is offering us here. “Turning the other cheek” is not a prescription for abuse but rather the way to get the Lord involved in your defense.
Many people feel that these instructions of Jesus guarantee that others will take advantage of us. That would be true if there was no God. But when we follow these commands of Jesus, the Lord is on our side. He said in Roman 12:19, “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.”
When we fight back, we are drawing on our own strength. But when we turn the other cheek, we are invoking God as our defense. Once we understand this, it becomes obvious that these instructions are for our own good.
James 1:20, says that the wrath of man does not accomplish the righteousness of God. Regardless of how appropriate our anger may seem, and regardless of how we think our wrath could make a person or situation change, we will never achieve God’s best that way.
When we defend ourselves, we stop God from defending us. It has to be one way or the other. It cannot be both ways. When we turn the other cheek to our enemies, we are loosing the power of God on our behalf. Let God defend you today.
The Best Sinner
Matthew 5:20 “For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.”
What did Jesus mean? Since the Pharisees fasted twice each week, does this mean we have to fast three times each week? Since they paid tithes on everything including spices, does this mean that anyone who fails to tithe is doomed to hell?
No! Definitely not. The Pharisees’ righteousness was based on their actions. Jesus is advocating a righteousness that is based on faith in what He did for us.
Trusting in our own actions will never grant us access to God. We may be better than others, but who wants to be the best sinner that ever went to hell? We have all sinned and come short of perfection which is what God requires, Romans 3:23.
The only one who was ever good enough to earn right standing with God is Jesus. And His righteousness is offered as a gift to anyone who will put their faith in Him as their Savior.
Jesus offers us a righteousness by faith that is so far superior to the self righteousness that the Pharisees had that there is no comparison. This is the righteousness that we need and which is available to us only through faith in Christ.
Mark 1:31 “And he came and took her by the hand, and lifted her up; and immediately the fever left her, and she ministered unto them.”
How did Peter’s mother-in-law minister unto Jesus and His disciples? Did she sit them down and preach to them? Certainly not. Yet sometimes people think the only way we can minister to another is to admonish them with the scriptures.
Peter’s mother-in-law apparently ministered to them by serving them. The word translated “minister” is the same word that was translated “deacon” twice in the New Testament, and “serve, served or serveth” eight times.
We can minister for the Lord by doing some of the menial tasks that many consider to be unimportant. Jesus said that even a cup of cold water given in His name would not go unrewarded, Matthew 10:42.
Many people are waiting for the important jobs to come along where they can make a big impact or receive a lot of recognition, while they pass by many lesser opportunities every day. But in the kingdom of God, we won’t be given any great opportunities until we are proven faithful in the small things, Luke 16:10.
Today, ask the Lord to show you ways you can minister to others by serving them.
Demons In The Church
Mark 1:23, “And there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit; and he cried out;”
Many people don’t associate demon possessed people with places of worship. Yet most of the demons that Jesus cast out were encountered in the church. Why would demon possessed people be in church?
In some cases, the people were there because they were seeking help. The church, like a hospital, offers people the cure and therefore, attracts those who are sick.
In other cases, the devil sows these types of people in the church to spread spiritual disease. A church that is teaching the true Word of God should either try to evangelize these individuals or make them so convicted that they move on. Sad to say, demon possessed people can thrive in most religious settings today.
We always need to show love for the sinner as Jesus did, but we should cut the devil no slack. If a person wants to keep an evil spirit on the inside of them, they should not feel at home in church.
Let the Spirit of God live through you as He did through Jesus and you will either make people mad or glad, but there will not be indifference.
Mark 1:16 “Now as he walked by the sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew his brother casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers.”
Jesus never chose an apostle from among the religious system. Every one of his twelve disciples were men that He chose from the secular world. It wasn’t because God didn’t have faith in those who were religious. It’s just that most of those who were part of the religious system didn’t have any faith in God.
One of the most common mistakes religious people make is to put faith in themselves. They think God will use them because of their great holiness or special abilities.
Paul said, “But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are:”, 1 Corinthians 1:27-28.
People who recognize their own inabilities are of necessity more dependent on God. That is the way God wants it. The Lord is constantly searching for someone who recognizes they are nothing so He can do something through them, 2 Chronicles 16:9.
Instead of thinking of your responsibilities, just respond to His ability.
John 4:50 “Jesus saith unto him, Go thy way; thy son liveth. And the man believed the word that Jesus had spoken unto him, and he went his way.”
Jesus didn’t have to touch the child. He didn’t have to send anything home with the father to affect the cure. All He did was speak and the son was instantly healed (v. 53).
This man had traveled over fifteen miles from Capernaum to Cana to find Jesus. Therefore, the son was not within ‘earshot” so that Jesus’ words sparked some cord of hope in his heart, thereby releasing God’s power. No, Jesus’ spoken word had so much power that no barriers (such as time or space) had any affect on it whatsoever.
This is hard for us to comprehend. We spend an entire lifetime learning physical limitations and adapting to them. But there are no limits to the power of God’s word. Jesus created everything in this physical universe by His words, and that creation will respond to anything He says.
The Lord gave His Word to the Jews but they didn’t believe it. Hebrews 4:2 says, “…the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.” We have been given God’s words too, in the Bible. If we will speak God’s Word in faith, we will get the same results that Jesus did here.
John 4:32 “But he saith unto them, I have meat to eat that ye know not of.”
Food is essential for life. Without it we couldn’t grow. We get strength and vitality from food. Yet food can kill us. Improper diets kill more people than any disease.
Our soul needs nourishment too. The things we think on and the desires that we have are food to our souls. Jesus said, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.”, Matthew 4:4.
Jesus valued spiritual nourishment more than He valued physical nourishment. He was thrilled to see this woman and the people of this town respond to His gift of salvation. Likewise, we should set our desires on the things of God so that spiritual matters are more important to us than our physical food.
The wrong diet for our souls is the leading cause of failure and depression in Christians. Being spiritually minded produces life and peace. Being carnally minded produces death, Romans 8:6.
In our health conscious society, many of us wouldn’t dream of abusing our bodies with bad diets. Yet in our soulish area, we are killing ourselves by feeding on the wrong things. Treat yourself to a healthy spiritual meal today.