Avoid Strife

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Avoid Strife

Luke 12:58 “When thou goest with thine adversary to the magistrate, as thou art in the way, give diligence that thou mayest be delivered from him; lest he hale thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and the officer cast thee into prison.”

Jesus had just spoken about relationships before He gave this parable of delivering ourselves from the judge. The warning is clear that we should do everything within our power to avoid strife, Romans 12:18. However, the consequences of failing to settle the differences are more than just physical prison or punishment.

Strife can produce spiritual and emotional prisons. James 3:16 says, “For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.” Depressions, fears, loneliness, bitterness, sicknesses, financial problems, and many other things can become prisons from which we will not be delivered until we reconcile.

The dictionary states that to reconcile means “to re-establish friendship between; to settle or resolve, as a dispute” (American Heritage). The key to reconciliation is effectively dealing with the enmity, ill will, hatred, or hostility that has caused the dispute. There are several approaches to reconciliation that may be applied. For instance, If we’ve offended someone by an unkind word that we’ve spoken, we can apologize. If we owe money to someone, we can pay the debt. If we’ve done something to someone we can make the necessary restitution. But in every case, reconciliation lies in dealing effectively with the root cause of the enmity.

The enmity between man and God was sin. God took the initiative to remove this barrier through the means and agency of Jesus Christ, thus leaving Him and man as friends once again. Thank God for His great love!

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The Goodness Of God

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The Goodness Of God

Luke 12:5 “But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him.”

Second Timothy 1:7 says, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” First John 4:18 says, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.” These scriptures may look like they are contradictions to Jesus’ statement here; however, they are not.

There are two kinds of fear. The American Heritage Dictionary defines fear as “a feeling of alarm or disquiet caused by the expectation of danger, pain, disaster, or the like; terror; dread; apprehension.” It also defines fear as “extreme reverence or awe, as toward a supreme power.”

It is this reverence or awe that God’s Word teaches saints to have towards God. Hebrews 12:28 says that there is a godly fear with which we are supposed to serve God and thereby implies that there is an ungodly fear that is not acceptable in serving God.

Satan has always used this ungodly dread or terror to torment godly people. Those who have been born again should have no dread or terror of God unless they are planning to renounce their faith in Jesus as their Savior. We have a covenant that guarantees us acceptance with God, Ephesians 1:6, as long as we hold fast to our profession of faith in the atoning blood of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

For an unbeliever, the fear of the Lord is a great deterrent from sin. However, for those of us who have received the grace of God, it is His goodness that causes us to fear him and depart from sin. His goodness is awesome!

Grow In Grace

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Grow In Grace

Luke 11:38 “And when the Pharisee saw it, he marvelled that he had not first washed before dinner.”

A sure sign of the error of legalism is misplaced priorities, as we see here with these Pharisees. It is not recorded in Scripture that the Pharisees marveled at the wonderful works of Jesus. They were too busy looking for something to criticize, Mark 3:2. But they marveled at Jesus not washing His hands. This is a classic example of straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel, Matthew 23:24.

Those who seek to earn righteousness through keeping the Law are consumed with “doing,” while those who receive righteousness by faith are simply confessing what has already been done. This is a simple and yet profound difference. If we are still “doing” acts of holiness to get God to move in our lives, then we are still operating under a “Law” mentality that is not faith, Galatians 3:12. When we simply believe and confess what has already been provided through Christ, that’s grace.

A person who is living under the Law and a person who lives under grace should have very similar actions of holiness, but their motivations are completely opposite. The legalist has their attention on what they must do, while the person living by faith has his attention on what Christ has already done for him. For instance, the Scriptures teach us to confess with our mouths and believe with our hearts, and we will receive from God. The legalist thinks, That means I can get God to heal me by confessing, ‘By his stripes I am healed.’ However, the person who understands God’s grace will not confess the Word to get healed. They will confess, “By His stripes I am healed” because they really believe it has already been done.

Analyzing our “mind set” is the simplest way of discerning whether we are operating in true Bible faith or a legalistic counterfeit. If the motive for our actions is to be accepted with God, that’s legalism. If we live wholly out of faith and gratefulness for what God has already done, that’s grace. Grow in grace!

Be Filled

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Be Filled

Luke 11:13 “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?”

The Holy Spirit is a gift, Acts 2:38. You cannot be good enough to earn the gift of the Holy Spirit, but you do have to ask. This is speaking of the baptism of the Holy Ghost, which is subsequent to the born-again experience.

The Holy Spirit resides in our spirits, and once He comes, He doesn’t leave, John 14:16. There is an initial filling when the Holy Ghost first comes. However, His control and influence over our souls and body does fluctuate proportionally to how well we have our minds renewed to His will, Romans 12:2.

In that sense, we can be more full of the Holy Ghost than at other times, although in our spirits the presence and power of the Holy Spirit does not come and go. Therefore, even after we receive the baptism of the Holy Ghost, there will be times when our souls and bodies stray from the leadership of the Holy Spirit and we need, once again, to be filled with the Holy Spirit.

In Ephesians 5:18 believers are commanded to “be not drunk with wine…but be filled with the Spirit;” Being filled with the Holy Spirit is in the present tense, making it a continual command for the believer. In the book of Acts, the same people who were filled with the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost were filled again. Most people don’t get drunk on just one drink.

Likewise, being filled with the Holy Spirit is not just a one-time experience. There is an initial filling of the Holy Spirit, but many subsequent fillings. Just as drunkenness can change a person’s personality and make him or her act totally different, so being filled with the Holy Spirit can make us act just like Jesus. Be filled with the Spirit today.

Our Loving Father

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Our Loving Father

Luke 11:11 “If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent?”

The most loving Father in the world cannot compare to our heavenly Father and the love He has for us. And yet, many times, we find it easier to believe in the willingness of a father or mother or mate to help us than in the willingness of God to use His power on our behalf. Relatively few people really doubt God’s ability, but rather, it is our doubt of His willingness to use His ability on our behalf that causes most people to do without. Jesus is assuring us that God’s love, and His willingness to demonstrate that love, is far greater than we can ever experience in any human relationship.

The Lord didn’t just save us out of pity or a sense of obligation as our Creator. He saved us because He loved us, John 3:16. It was the “good pleasure of his will” for us to become adopted sons, Ephesians 1:5. We are wanted and accepted by our Father! What a wonderful thing this is! It would have been more than any of us deserve to be forgiven by God. Then to be given certain rights and privileges would have been more than we could have expected. But the Lord went further than that. He has actually accepted us.

The dictionary defines “accept” as “1. to receive gladly; 2. to receive into a place or a group” (New American Heritage Dictionary). The Lord does not just tolerate us; He actually loves us. He even likes us. He rejoices over us with joy, Zephaniah 3:17.

Prayer Power

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Prayer Power

Luke 11:1 “And it came to pass, that, as he was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples’.”

When you consider that Jesus was the greatest miracle worker who ever walked the earth and the greatest preacher who ever lived, it is amazing that His disciples asked Him to teach them to pray. Why didn’t they ask Him to teach them how to work these miracles or how to preach and amaze the people with their doctrine?

It’s because Jesus’ prayer life was even more powerful than His miracles or His doctrine. Indeed, it was His union with the Father that gave Him His power to work miracles and His authority to speak as no man had ever spoken before. Jesus said repeatedly that it was His Father who was doing the miracles through Him and that His doctrine was not His own but the Father’s.

The same holds true today. Jesus said in John 15:5 that without Him, we can do nothing. There are many things that we should do in addition to prayer, but there is nothing that we can effectively do without prayer. Prayer is one of the main ways of abiding in Him, John 15:7. Therefore, our request should be like these disciples “Lord, teach us to pray.”

We should come expecting to receive answers to prayer. The Father is ready and willing to answer our prayers. Just ask and you shall receive.

 

Power In The Name Of Jesus

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Power In The Name Of Jesus

Luke 10:17 “And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name.”

It was the power in the name of Jesus plus the disciples’ faith in that power that made the demons subject unto them. This can clearly be seen in Acts 19:13-17 where certain Jews called on the name of Jesus in an effort to cast demons out of a man. They used the name of Jesus, but it didn’t work because they had not put faith in that name.

These Jews were itinerants who used incantations to effect deliverance for people who were demon possessed. The first-century historian, Josephus, wrote of an exorcism that he witnessed in the presence of Vespasian and many of his soldiers. The exorcist supposedly followed a ritual passed down from King Solomon to effect the deliverance. There is no doubt that men throughout all history have tried to resist demonic spirits, but as this example proves, only Jesus and those who have received His life are successful.

Those who relegate demonic spirits to the realm of superstition do not believe in the entire Word of God. The Gospels alone contain over 90 references to the devil or devils (demons). The Apostle Paul said when writing to these people in Ephesus, “We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places”, Ephesians 6:12. The devil and demons do exist, but all believers in Jesus share in His total victory over them.

The name of Jesus is not magic. It does not work like a charm. As Peter said, “His name through faith in his name…”, Acts 3:16, is what brings results.

 

Hearing God’s Voice

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Hearing God’s Voice

 John 10:2-3 “But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out.”

This verse promises all who are God’s sheep that they not only can, but that they do, hear His voice. Many born-again people doubt the truth of this statement based on their experience. They don’t think they can hear God’s voice. However, the Word of God is true – not our experience.

The harmony between what this verse says and what our experiences say is that it is our new born-again spirit that hears God’s voice. Although God has spoken and still does speak in an audible voice at times, very few people experience this. God speaks to our inner person (spirit) and our inner person hears Him. The problem comes when we aren’t sensitive to, or controlled by, our spirit but are walking in the vanity of our mind. The Bible calls this walking in the flesh instead of the Spirit, Galatians 5:16-18.

Man is a spirit, soul, and body. Our spirits are as perfect as they will ever be in heaven. If we will change our thinking so that we believe what God says in His Word about who we are and what we have, then this agreement between our spirit and soul forms a majority and our flesh will experience the life of God that has been deposited in our spirits.

Prayer, Bible study, fasting, fellowship, etc. are ways of refocusing our mind’s attention away from the voice of this world and back to the voice of our Shepherd who is constantly communicating with our spirit. If we fail to renew our minds, we can live our entire time on this earth without experiencing the abundant life that Jesus provided for us. Listen, and you will hear His voice speak to you through His Word today.

 

Amazing Grace

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Amazing Grace

John 8:4-5 “They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou?”


This was possibly the most potentially damaging temptation the scribes and Pharisees ever presented to Jesus. Much of Jesus’ widespread popularity with the people was because of His examples of and teachings about God’s mercy and forgiveness towards sinners. This was received with great enthusiasm by the people who, before this time had been presented with only a harsh, legalistic, judgmental picture of God.

The scribes and Pharisees had often tried to portray Jesus as condoning or practicing sin because of His association with sinners and His ministry to them when it violated Jewish traditions, such as the Sabbath. However, Jesus had successfully turned every attack into a victory for the side of grace and mercy.

This time, the Jews felt that they had Him “cornered.” If Jesus held to His teachings of forgiveness and refused to stone this woman, He would be in direct rebellion to the law of Moses. This would give these Jews legal grounds to kill Jesus. On the other hand, if He stoned the woman as the law declared, the people would forsake Him. It looked like they had Him trapped either way He went.

As always, the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and Jesus rose to the occasion. He did not condone the sin nor disregard the law of Moses. He simply told the one who was without sin to cast the first stone. As the Holy Ghost began to convict them of their own sin, they all had to leave. They, therefore, could not fault Jesus for not stoning the woman. Jesus was justified in His forgiveness of this woman because He was operating under the dispensation of grace. Think about God’s grace today.